Have you have been through a situation where you wanted to say no, but couldn’t? Your colleague asks you to work on a task. Your inner voice wants to say no while your colleague is waiting for your reply. 2 anxious seconds go by as your throat dries up and you feel a tingle down your spine. After what seemed like forever you reply “Sure, I will do it.”
In this article, you will learn how to say no politely to tasks and requests whenever you want to. Using a few easy techniques, you will be comfortable telling no to people without being rude.
What do you do when someone asks you for help? If someone asked you to spend time on a project which adds no value to your growth, how do you respond? Are you comfortable saying no to the below questions?
Can you help me with this? Will you do this for me? Is it possible for you to lend me money? How about meeting this weekend? Shall we work on this together?
Leave a comment on how comfortable you are saying no to such requests.
Though we know deep inside we should be saying no to many of these requests, we usually end up saying yes.
Even when you know you have far more important things to work on, turning down a request seems very hard to do. Even when we have a rational logic that can justify denying a request, saying no is never easy.
This article is Step 4 – How to conquer your fear of saying no to people in 3 steps of Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.
To understand the purpose behind the activity I recommend you to read through the article. But, for the busy bees, you can go directly to the exercise.
- Why saying no is hard
- Consequences of not saying no
- The Myth of keeping people happy by saying yes
- How to say no without feeling guilty
- A simple exercise to say no
Why saying no is hard
So why is it so hard to say no? To answer the psychology behind the difficulty of saying no, we have to go back in history. If you look at the human origins and how we evolved, being a strong social group was one of the strong reasons for our survival today. Therefore, maintaining good relationships is ingrained within us.
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, whether you prefer to be among the presence of people or like solitude by yourself, you still try to protect relationships even with a stranger. It is wired in your DNA.
There are some exceptions to every case like some jerks out there who enjoy pissing people off. But in general, most people will be uncomfortable if they have to rude to a stranger for no reason
Consequences of not saying no
Sometimes you fear saying no due to consequences and sometimes you feel uncomfortable especially when you have to do it professionally. I get that. But have you imagined what happens if you never say no? Let me illustrate with an example.
Imagine going to a donut place that has 20 different donuts. Would you enjoy the whole experience? Isn’t that too many different types of donuts competing against each other on your taste buds? You will end up hating the experience.
A similar thing happens when you say yes to multiple things in life. All of them compete for your attention. It could your family, your friends or your workers.
Since you have agreed and committed, you are subconsciously bound to fulfilling the ask. Since you only have 24 hours in a day, you are overloaded, stressed, unhappy, and often unable to deliver on all the promises you made.
The Myth of keeping people happy by saying yes
We tend to believe saying yes leads to better relationships and trust, but in reality, it is the contrary. When you start saying yes to way too many things, you are will falter in delivering some of those promises sooner or later. People tend to remember the favors they did to others, but not so much the favors others have done for them. There are even studies that have proved this.
On the flip side, people will remember when you promise and do not deliver. Declining the request upfront is far better than promising and failing to deliver on time.
Did you just agree to help your neighbor mow their lawn and failed to make time for it? Heck, he is going to remember it.
Did you agree to meet someone over the weekend when you had no intention of catching up? Damn right, he is going to remember it.
You might believe saying yes to every request helps in maintaining healthy relationships and high levels of trust. It can be quite the opposite in reality.
The reason why you are saying yes is only that you are not comfortable saying no, period.
But, by saying yes and not delivering it, you are disturbing the faith people have in you.
Who do you think is more respected? A person who says no to most requests but delivers on all agreed upon requests or the one who agrees to all requests but fails to deliver some of them? The answer is obvious on who Mr. Dependable is in this case.
By the way, the problem is so common that a speaker has given a TED Talk on it.
How to say no without feeling guilty
Learning how to say no is definitely hard. It gets easier only with practice. When you try some of the ideas mentioned below, it won’t be really easy the first few times either. Trust me, it will get easier after you muster the guts to say it a few times. I say this because I have practiced these ideas myself.
Remember every time you say yes to something you shouldn’t have, you have to postpone or decline something which was important.
Every time you say yes to a job that you do not have enough time or passion for, you are putting your credentials at stake. Every time you say yes to an unnecessary task, you are diluting your focus. You are taking a detour from your important goals.
1. Change to no being the default answer
Make your default answer as no instead of yes. When you have to pick up a task, you mentally train yourself to start with a no.
Unless you have a compelling reason for you to change that answer to a yes, you will stick to no as the answer. As simple as it sounds, it changes the entire flow of things.
You can start practicing by saying no to friends for small gatherings to begin with.
2. Do not postpone the decision
Often your inner voice knows you should be saying no from the outset. In such cases, postponing the decision never helps. In some cases, we have mentally decided we do not want to say yes but postpone the communication of the decision.
Postponing communication will make it harder. The sooner you say no, the easier it is for all parties involved. The longer you take to say no, the harder it is for you.
The tip holds even more weightage when you have to say no professionally in a work environment. Waiting too long in business can lead to disastrous consequences.
3. Do not fabricate fake reasons
Say no because you don’t want to agree to the request. It is acceptable to say no for a weekend party with your friend because you don’t want to meet up. For heaven’s sake do not call out sick.
4. Decline politely in a sentence or two
You do not have to be rude when you decline a request. It is acceptable to state the reason with a because followed by a few words. An example would be “I will not be able to assist you on this project because this will need a considerable amount of my time. I am currently occupied with projects X, Y, Z.” There is no need to elaborate too much or to apologize.
5. Provide an alternative if necessary
Whenever necessary and possible provide an alternative. Do so only if an alternative is a necessity. For example, your friend wants you to sort out his problem with Daniel. You can provide an alternative of getting them both together instead. A word of caution: the alternative should not be a reason to avoid saying no to something which truly deserves a no.
A simple exercise to say no
To start putting all these tips into practice, recall all the things you are doing currently which you should be saying no to. Examples can be the following:
- a task your running for a colleague
- a project you believe helps no one
- the sofa set your spouse recommends which you believe is terrible
- that recurring weekly meeting you attend which adds no value
I bet there are a ton of things you can say no to. Think hard. You can use this Trigger List to recall the things you have to say no to.
Take a stand and say no to those.
Do not postpone it, do it right now. Read no further, just do it. This is essential for your success.
Say no is and will be hard unless you start practicing the art and mindset of saying no. The art of saying no without hurting someone’s feelings will take some time to get used to. It gets even challenging when you have to say no family, friends and other people you’re close to.
The sooner you understand the importance of saying no, the more time and energy you will save for yourself.
In this article, you have understood the reason why you say no. You now have a list of things jotted down to say no to. I am sure some of them are easy to say no to. At the same time, I am also sure there are many things which you really want to say no to but are now dreading the fear of doing so. The only way you can get over your fear is by saying no starting today.
Remember, remember and remember. Do not postpone communication.
Leave a comment on the total count of things you currently have to say no to.
This article is Step 4 – How to say no to people of Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.