How To Say No

How to say no;

Saying no, such a simple thing, can be extremely difficult. I think it’s really important to be able to say no, to be able to make choices based on what’s right for you in any particular moment. Life is full of choices, for how we spend our time and our resources, these choices can be extremely overwhelming. I know that I often end up saying yes as a default without really considering what I want and need.

Why you should say no; 

You should say no sometimes because there simply isn’t enough time or energy to say yes to everything. If you’re saying yes all the time you’re not giving yourself space to explore the other options, your life is being steered by someone else.

If you always say yes then you’re letting other people and chance take charge of your life.  You’re spending your time doing things which other people want you to do, and not even necessarily the people whom you want to be making these choices with, just the people who asked.

Don’t misunderstand, sometimes the best and most unexpected joy comes from saying yes to something. Equally saying no can lead to a different path which turns out to be the right path. I’m just saying that your answer should be a conscious choice, not a default response.

When to say no; 

When you need space. No creates space.

When you don’t want to. As silly as it sounds we don’t always listen to our inner voice, no matter how loudly it shouts. We get caught up in should and fear of missing out.

So, for example, I get invited to a party. At this particular time I’m tired, I need some alone time, or some family time. However I find myself saying yes because if I say no I might miss out on something. I should go because otherwise I will offend the host.  What I don’t consider is that if I say yes then I will certainly miss out on the thing I actually need, be that rest, time to work, or cuddles with my children.

When what is offered isn’t right for you. For example I’m feeling blue, I’m overworked, and under the weather. Sometime suggests chocolate. Chocolate fixes everything, they’re holding it out to you and you feel obligated to take a piece. They’re offering a solution to your troubles. But it’s not right for me at the moment. I need sleep, good food and lots of water. No is the correct answer but you end up saying yes in order to be polite.

When you don’t have anything to give. A friend is having a difficult time, you feel obligated to help but actually you have your own stuff going on which means that saying yes will mean struggle for you. It’s the airplane analogy, you should put on your own oxygen mask first. Or the situation where someone is drowning, so a bystander jumps in to help and ends up creating another casualty.

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t help out a friend in need. Just asking you to check whether you have the resources to do so first. Looking after yourself means being better placed to help others.

How to say no; 

Saying no feels uncomfortable. My absolute first recommendation would be to give yourself space to consider a request before responding to it. If you’re invited to do something say “let me check my diary and get back to you.” If you’re asked to help say “give me some time to think about whether I can do that for you.” You are under no obligation to answer immediately.

Take the time to consider the situation, decide what your response should be and then respond. Don’t answer with a knee-jerk yes.

Offer an alternative. Perhaps you don’t want to go for coffee today but next week would be great. Perhaps you can’t offer childcare but you can cook a meal, or do laundry.

No is a complete answer, don’t feel under pressure to justify your decision. I’ve been guilty of over explaining many times. It’s just not necessary and “no that doesn’t work for me” is response enough.

I hope this has been helpful. Saying no takes practise, and confidence, but in time considering requests and responding based on your needs will feel natural.