One of the most important lessons we can learn in life is how to say no. Although this sounds (and might come) easy to some, many of us struggle with it. This means that we often find ourselves agreeing to things that we shouldn’t or don’t want to do. You will face situations like these often in your life, whether that be in your private or professional life. And the sooner you learn to say no, the sooner you will be able to focus on things that you actually want to have time for. There is no point wasting your precious time and energy on tasks that you don’t want to do. So here are my top tips when it comes to saying no.
Take time to think
Often when we are asked to do something, we are out on the spot – either in person or on the phone for example. Emails and text messages allow us this time. However you are asked, take time to think about it by saying you’ll think about it or get back to them soon. Then weigh your pros and cons, see if you can afford to and want to say yes and then give them your answer. It is important that you keep your word and give them an answer, though. Otherwise it might negatively impact future interactions.
Put yourself first
Putting your needs first is a crucial part of self-care. If there is a chance that your wellbeing might be impacted – whether that be through stress, a bigger workload, less sleep, working with someone difficult, doing a tedious task… – you should put yourself first. Ask yourself, in all honesty, if agreeing to this will affect your mental or physical health in anyway and, only once you have truthfully answered that question in your head, decide whether or not you will agree. Remember that your most important relationship is with yourself, so honour that and put yourself first.
Don’t feel guilty
Saying no to someone can often make us feel guilty. And if you are the type of person that wants to help others and be there for people, this can be especially hard. But saying no to someone shouldn’t make you feel guilty. If you aren’t able or don’t want to do something, it is your right to say no – which is why they asked you in the first place. Unless it is a matter of life or death, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not agreeing to something.
You don’t have to explain yourself
Often when we say no to someone, we explain why we can’t do something or go somewhere to justify our answer. But you don’t have to do that. You are allowed to just say no and not give a reason. This is especially true when you are asked to do something in work which clashes with your personal life. You don’t owe anyone, not even your boss, an explanation for why you said no. And in a more personal setting, if you don’t want to do something with someone, you are allowed to say no. Especially if this is of romantic or sexual nature, giving your consent is key. If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, it is your right to say no – no explanation necessary. And if someone will not accept that, then toss them out of your life. You deserve to be respected.
This is a difficult one for me. I apologize too much. Like, way too much. If someone bumps into me, I will apologize to them. Why? You tell me. But I have been making a conscious effort to do it less. Bad habits are hard to break though. Anyway, when you say no to someone, you have no reason to apologize because you didn’t do anything wrong. All you did was answer a question. Which brings me to my next point.
You are allowed to say no
This has a lot to do with what I mentioned in the paragraph about guilt, so I will keep it short. When you are asked a yes-or-no question, you have the choice between saying “yes” and “no”. You are the one answering so you are the one that gets to decided how you will do so.
Read F**k No! by Sarah Knight
If you have read my 2nd list of self-help books, you will have come across this book already. It is the best Christmas gift I ever received. Sarah Knight presents the different kinds of yes-sayers there are and helps you figure out which one you are. Knowing why you have trouble saying no will be a huge steps toward helping you learn to say no to others. It’s also a very fun and entertaining read!
Learning to say no is a journey so don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way: saying no to working extra or to going on a night out or to someone trying to sell you something. This post was quite short as I am only slowly getting back into work-mode. Saying no to my work and taking some time away to grieve hasn’t been easy but it’s been a very good lesson in guilt. And I am happy to say that I do not feel guilty for taking some time to heal. I hope some of these tips helped you too and I look forward to see you here again soon. Take care.