Do you find it difficult to say “No”? 3 tips to make it easier

Do you often have a diary crisis?  Do you find your schedule is manic? Does it cause you stress wondering how you can get everything done in the day, week, month or year?  In today’s busy world, you are not alone!  One important way to manage your schedule better is to get better at saying “No”. So why is it so difficult to do?

In the past in my career as a Finance Transformation Manager, I have taken on too much work and this has had a negative impact on me.  I would work longer hours trying to squeeze it in, start to worry about it all which affects my sleep and my well-being, has a knock on effect to my family and it is the start of a very slippery slope.  And so I am much more careful about saying “No” nowadays.

So what makes it difficult to say No? 

Well it is usually our values or beliefs.  Perhaps helping others is an important value for you and therefore you want to do this as much as possible.  Perhaps there is some guilt about rejecting a person if you say no; a feeling that you are hurting the other person, letting them down or that they may perceive you as uncaring or unhelpful. Or perhaps you have this view that you can do it all or maybe you can play the martyr or victim because you have so much to do.

What happens when you are asked to do something that you dont really have time to do or even want to do is you may:-

  • say “Yes” when you mean “No.
  • respond ineffectively suggesting an alternative which keeps the opportunity open
  • not respond at all keeping the other person hanging on waiting for answer.

3 tips to help say “No”

If this is a problem that you face here are 3 key tips to help you:-

1. Be assertive, courteous and say “No”

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I will let you know if, and when, I can”.  This approach is polite, clear and also empowers you to make a different decision in the future.

2. Pass on to someone else

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I know someone else who may be able to help you”. This approach is helpful providing the person with another source of assistance.

3. Set the appropriate boundaries

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help do what you are asking but I could do this instead”.  This approach again empowers you to tell the person what you are prepared to do; maybe changing the timescale or the amount or type of work involved.

All of these responses put you in the driving seat over your time and availability and give a clear direction to the other person. 

It is also good to consider this from the other persons perspective. Wouldn’t you want to be told “No” and find another way forward rather than being kept dangling or find that you are creating unnecessary pressure?  I know I would!

In the words of Steve Jobs “It’s only by saying No that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

I wonder what things you could concentrate on that are really important to you…

Tracy, Your Catalyst for Change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *