We’ve all been there.
A new email (or text) comes through and it’s from a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or even a stranger asking for your time and help.
Your calendar is pretty full but you could maybe just maybe squeeze in time if you missed your workout class or came home to your family a little later. You could say “yes” and make it work, what you really want to say is “no”. So how do you say no and without hurting that relationship? You don’t want to be selfish or disappoint him/her. But that time to yourself or with your family/friends is what you look forward to all week.
I’ve been in this situation too many times, and what I’ve realized is that it brings unnecessary stress. But when you are mindful and selective about what you say yes to, you can say yes to the things you really want to do.
Everything is an opportunity cost, requiring us to give up one thing to do another. And the most surprising part of practicing saying no, is that most people understand. When you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others and they respect that.
But let’s break down the art of the saying “no”
Why Are You Afraid to Say No?
Hurt in the relationship?
To show we are a team player?
I’m a chronic people pleaser, and I hate saying “no”. I never want to disappoint anyone. I get it. We often say yes to prove that we are reliable and capable. It feels good to do good for others!
And I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to do things for others and say “yes”. Because saying yes can open opportunities, new friendships, and so many great things.
But this is about knowing what to say no to so you can say yes to those great things!
Things that bring true happiness to both parties, where we can be reliable to ourselves and our priorities.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been facing my own fears in saying no and it really hasn’t turned out as horrible as my mind made it out to be. When I tell people I cannot do something because I am taking the time to take care of my downtime or my family time, they almost always respond with understanding and our relationship isn’t affected.
Stick to Your Values & Priorities
When we prioritize our values, saying “no” a whole lot easier. We have a strong foundation for the WHY and it stops us from questioning ourselves. But most importantly, it stops that guilt from creeping in.
Because what’s there to feel guilty about when you are doing something to strengthen your values and better your life?
We all have certain priorities that mean the most of us. Whether that means our time to spend with family, exercising, meditating, get a manicure, or having time to read, whatever it is that makes us happy.
I’ll share some of my values as an example:
- Waking up around 4:00am-5:00am to meditate, prioritize my to-dos, and check my emails.
It’s my time to work uninterrupted, when I am most productive, so I don’t feel overwhelmed walking into the office.
- Picking up my son from school every other day (trading off with my husband)
That time in my day to be the first face he sees after school and love on Diego before I go back to work is invaluable to me.
- Putting Diego to bed
As a working mom, I spend most of my days at the office and sometimes even traveling. So in the evenings after dinner until his bedtime I often leave my phone (out of sight) in a drawer on airplane mode so I can be present with my family, something I learned from Dr. Shauna Shapiro (read her post on mindful parenting here).
- Everyday I make it a point to do something for me.
In an ideal world it includes a weekly manicure. But realistically it can often just be the little things like treating myself to a matcha latte from my favorite cafe, taking the scenic drive home, or even speaking kindly to myself.
Whatever your priorities are be confident in them and people will respect them. If they don’t, they’re not the type of people we want to have around right?
How to Politely Say No
Congrats, you’ve made it this far!
I’m happy to tell you, yes there is a formula. Take it with whatever changes you feel necessary but since I’m such a analytical brained girl, this has been really helpful for me (and saved me a whole lot of time).
Formula for Saying No
- Compliment them if applicable (and honest)
- Address their request and answer
- Thank them
- Offer a compromise or alternate way to support
- End with words of encouragement
Example #1, I am invited to an event but have had a busy week, with little time for my family I would say…
“Congratulations on your grand opening!
I am going to have to decline unfortunately, because Thursday night is time I need to spend with my family.
But thank you! I would be more than happy to spread the word to on social media.
Exciting things are ahead for you, it will be a wonderful event!”
Example #2: A colleague/co-workers asks for your help or edit on a project proposal
“You are so kind for thinking of me as a good fit to help out.
Right now I need to give my full attention to the end of the year budget report.
Thank you for including me, I have attached two old examples of project proposals.
You are going to do so well, stay focused…you got this!”
What are some of your tips for prioritizing your time? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!