Know When to Say No - And Feel Okay About It
Do you ever find yourself saying yes to things you really don't want to do? Most of us have felt, at one time or another, a certain amount of social, emotional, or professional obligation to say yes to requests for our time, talent and energy. But while this may appear as unselfish and noble, saying yes too often can lead to you to become resentful and/or overcommitted and stressed to the detriment of your health and happiness. According to Duke Robinson, author of Too Nice for Your Own Good, "Saying yes when you need to say no causes burnout. You do yourself and the person making the request a disservice by saying yes all of the time."
If you have a hard time saying no, here are some tips to help you learn how to say no and feel okay about it!
Do an honest gut-check with yourself before saying yes. Ask yourself if you really want to do it and consider how saying yes will affect your life, stress level and happiness (and that of your family). If you don't really feel like you have the time, energy or desire to take on this new responsibility, just say no!
Stop feeling guilty! Don't feel like you are letting down the person requesting your time and energy. Instead, feel good about the gift of time you are giving to yourself, your children, your spouse, etc. You have a finite number of hours in the day and a limited amount of energy and you get to choose how you spend them so they bring the greatest happiness to you and those you love.
What are the consequences of saying no? Really, will the world come to an end if you say no? Will you offend the person making the request? If this person will really get bent out of shape because you aren't willing to comply to their request, what kind of a friend/colleague are they really?
What are the consequences of saying yes? If you allow yourself to become overcommitted and stressed, you can become run down, sick and irritable to those around you. That's no way to go through life! Take care of yourself before you start taking care of others.
Be gentle. When you do say no, be firm but gentle. Simply say that you are unable to fulfill the request at this time and don't elaborate. If pressed for an explanation, simply reply that it doesn't fit with your current schedule.
If you find it hard to say no, start practicing on trivial requests, such as signing a petition on the street, submitting to samples in the mall, or listening to telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople. By practicing on people with whom you have no emotional, social or professional connection you can build your confidence without the fear of alienating or offending.
Remember that you don't have to do it all and you will never make everyone happy every time! No is a powerful word - one that you shouldn't be afraid to use when appropriate. You will be happier and your family will be happier. So get out there and say no!