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Monday, September 3, 2007

How to Say "No" - 4 Tips

How much of your time do you spend doing things you don't want to do?

Are the things that you "really" want to do, always at the bottom of your to-do list?

Do you routinely find things on your calendar that you wish you could "get out of?"

I am consistently struck by the powerful, strong, talented people I know--individuals who run businesses, who can be a force-to-be-reckoned-with when called to defend their own families, people who KNOW how to make-things happen, who struggle with how to apply those skills to themselves.

A client of mine decided that she was ready to get serious about say "no" after literally adding up everything she had spent in the past month on things she had been too uncomfortable to say "no" to. Among the things she found: lunches out at restaurants she didn't like, fund raisers she was supporting out of guilt, transportation to events she didn't want to attend, money spent on scrap booking supplies that a coworker was selling (she hates scrap booking), and the cost of hosting a candle selling party as a favor for a friend. Her adult daughter was also living at home, rent-free and this arrangement was wearing thin.

Although the financial toll got her attention, her real issue was never having time for the things she needed and wanted to do. The money spent didn't even begin to compare with what her time and energy were worth.

Growing comfortable saying "no" gives us our personal power and control back.

Our most valuable commodity isn't money, it's our time and energy.

If we use up our life energy meeting other peoples' agendas, we may never get where we really want to go.

Saying "no" creates more time and space for us to say "yes" to the things that really do enrich our lives and fill us up. Making clear choices about how we spend our energy allows us to create lives that are aligned with our priorities and values.

Saying "no" makes your "yeses" more enthusiastic--because you really mean them.

People who are comfortable saying "no" have less resentment

Saying "no" gracefully is easier than you think. In fact, most of us tend to over complicate it. Plus, it gets easier over time.

Tips for saying "no":

1. The shorter the better

Sometimes "No." is the best possible way to phrase it. You rarely owe the asker the lengthy explanation you may feel compelled to give. Besides, offering a lengthy explanation just opens the door for someone to help you figure out how you really could say "yes."

example: "I know you need volunteers for the silent auction committee but my son's soccer games have us really busy this month." reply: "I know, my daughter plays too. That's okay, you can just come to the meetings and start soliciting donations next month after the season ends."

better "no": "I know the silent auction is an important fund-raiser but I really won't be able to serve on a committee this year. I'm sorry."

2. When you feel challenged or pushed, don't add to your explanation (see tip number one), simply repeat it with sincerity.

example: "Wow. I'm disappointed. You are so talented at getting great donations."

your reply: "I know and I know the auction is an important fund-raiser, but I really won't be able to participate this year."

By having a clear "no" statement, sticking to it and repeating it if necessary, you avoid being drawn into a conversation about whether there is any other possibility but "no."

3. Think about your goal.

It's probably along the lines of saying "no" and also being a nice, caring person. The reality is that most of us can't do everything we care about all the time. We need to set priorities or we can end up so over-booked that the energy we have to spend on anything is compromised.

Often a solid "no" has two parts. An acknowledgment that the person's request is important and a "no."

-"I'm sorry, but I can't."
-"I wish I could, but I won't be able to attend."
-"I'd really love to, but that won't work for me."
-"It sounds fun, but I won't be able to participate."
-"I know you're looking for volunteers, but I can't add more commitments to my schedule right now."

4. When "no" is too hard, don't say "yes."

Give yourself time to think about what you really want to say and how you want to say it. Say:
-"I need to get back to you about that."
-"I need to think about it and call you back."
-"I have to check my calendar."
-"I'm not sure, can I call you?"

Give yourself time so that you can prepare yourself to say the "no" you really want to say.

Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. is a Psychologist and Life and Wellness Coach who helps her clients create and live their very best lives. She is also the creator of the Emotional Eating Toolbox (TM), Tools for Taking Control and Moving Beyond Dieting. Subscribe to her free newsletter, Mindspa, at her website:

Copyright 2007 - Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, give author name credit and follow all of the EzineArticles terms of service for Publishers.


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