The Power of Saying No

May 31, 2020

When was the last time you said yes, but deep down, you wanted to say no?

It isn’t a surprise that many of us find it difficult to say no; intrinsically, we all want to be liked. However, the more we say yes to things we don’t want to do, the more we become somebody that we’re not.

To live life the way you want to, creating boundaries is essential. There is not enough time in the day to do everything you want to do, as well as all the things everyone else wants you to do, so you have to get picky. Start drawing a line between your priorities and those things that will just have to wait or go on without you.  Here are some tips on how to say ‘No’ with love.

How do you say no without just saying no?

Chances are, if you tell someone no without a reason, it may come across as rude or as if you don’t care. Find a polite way to give your reason, explaining your viewpoint so that you can be understood, rather than leaving it up to the other person to make a judgement call.

For example: Thank you for the invite to the work party tonight, but I won’t be coming because I would like to spend more time with my family.

Most importantly, just be honest! If you make excuses, other people will sense it, and this will drive you away from the people you are trying to maintain relationships with, such as your family, work colleagues, or customers.

For example, if a family member is asking you to do something for them, you could say: ‘No, I’m too busy at the moment.’ But, if you clearly have a lot of time on your hands, just be honest and tell them: ‘No, I have other priorities at the moment, and I need my free time to rest and recharge.’

People admire honesty, and they also admire people who are unapologetically themselves. If you say no, you are showing strength in who you are and that you are not a doormat for others to walk over.   

We are impulsive and often our instinct is to agree to things before we have reflected on whether we want to really do them or not. Take a step back and ask yourself do I really want to do to this?

In my book Is This It?. We explore how to identify what’s holding you back to have the life and job that you really want and how to make a plan to move you forward. A big part of this is getting clear on what you don’t want.

But how do you start saying no, if you’re not used to it?

Jumping into the world of saying no can be daunting, especially if you’re prone to worrying about what other people think of you, but practice really does make perfect.

Start by saying no to the small things: ‘No, I don’t want to watch this TV programme.’ ‘No, I don’t want to cook dinner tonight – it’s your turn.’ ‘No, I don’t want another piece of cake.’

As long as you say it politely, nothing harmful will happen by you saying no.

If you’re unsure of what you want to do and what you don’t, try writing up a list of yes vs no, and start practising your no’s one by one. You could even write a to-don’t list to ensure you don’t keep on agreeing to things that you don’t actually want to do. Reflect on how you feel afterwards.

Doesn’t it feel so much better to live life on your own terms?

Let me know in the comments how you get on.

You can check out my new podcast Conversations to Thrive here. For more tips and inspiration join my Facebook community the Coaching Collective.

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