During one of my talks about entrepreneurship and moving away from corporate life when I was speaking to a group of women with corporate jobs, one topic brought a unanimous nodding in the room. I was surprised to see this strong reaction on a straight-forward and simple point on reasons to say no and to say it so well that it comes across as good as a yes!
After the talk, I stayed to talk to some of these women. One of them was a busy doctor, with kids and all the usual responsibilities. She was going to school to get her MBA and on top of this, she could not bring herself to say no to the various volunteer efforts her friends and community asked her to do.
I was shaking my head just hearing this. “As busy as you are, you have every right to say no!”, I reminded her as though it wasn’t obvious enough to her already.
Then I realized that’s not the problem at all. She knows she needs to say no. She is a smart woman as are the rest of us. She knows she is busier than she needs to be and continuing on her already crazy schedule long-term would be beyond a challenge so why complicate life even more?
The real problem is that while saying no would be a great idea, it is scary and nerve-wracking to actually say no.
How could she actually go through with saying no if she cares about her friends and family, she asked me?
How could she turn down their requests and not hurt their feelings or damage the bond of their relationship?
Is it even possible to do both – to say no professionally and sincerely and to make it sound good, even desirable?
She reminded me of my old self who struggled so much with saying no and doing it right.
It’s not easy to do the things you know you should do because it’s not enough to know that you need to do something. You are smart enough to know the right thing but the resistance and anxiety of going through with it get in the way when it’s not the normal thing people do.
The normal thing is to say yes to every request and to be ‘nice’ to our families, friends and communities, no matter what the yes costs us.
Those times that you can’t say yes because there is no way you can help out, you may say “Let me think about it!” which is worse, because you raise false hope for the other person and struggle even longer with the indecision.
Later, you either force yourself to say yes to avoid saying the no you should have said in the first place or else ignore the request and the person altogether, pretending you forgot about it.
What if saying no was far better than saying yes for you and for them both?
Before you raise your hand and volunteer to do something that you have no time or energy to do, read the 10 ways saying no can increase your happiness without making you selfish or unkind.
10 Reasons Saying No Can Increase Your Happiness
1. You save your health and sanity.
Plain and simple: saying yes to everything will rob you first of your health and well-being, and drive you a little crazy. Not worth it. It does not help anyone.
2. You nurture yourself first so you can then nurture the world.
You are not being selfish. That means acting out only in a self-serving way. You are being nurturing to observe and recognize your own needs so that you can put out your best work in the world. That’s the opposite of self-serving, if you ask me.
3. You earn the respect of the other person.
By saying no with your honesty and kindness, you earn respect, which strengthens your relationship, whereas saying a half-hearted yes or ignoring the request loses respect and credibility.
4. You gain mutual trust.
It is easy to trust you when you speak your mind and your heart. Sometimes that’s a yes, sometimes that’s a no. When others can trust you, they will feel closer to you and you will be at ease to be yourself and expect no less of them in return when you put out your own requests.
5. You develop a reputation for being an honest straight-shooter.
Would you not want to work and be with someone who did not beat around the bushes? Would you not love to have a true friend by your side that was honest and reliable and gave you answers to your questions in this spirit? I know I do.
6. You show signs of leadership.
It is not easy to say yes and do it in such a way that it sounds good, but you are a leader of your own life and your actions, and leadership means making the best decisions at each moment given the resources and time and money available to you. So do that and no less.
7. You express true consideration. There’s nothing fake about you.
Fake is the least attractive characteristic trait for a friend, a business partner or a neighbor. Instead, be real. When you show consideration not just for them but also for yourself, you become truly caring.
8. You offer alternatives that they may not have considered. “I can’t do this but let me suggest …”
Always think about ways you can be helpful when you have to say no. Always suggest something else they could do, and be resourceful. This counts big in their eyes.
9. You gain happiness and inner peace.
No more stress from doing what you don’t want to do. No more giving up your inner peace to do some outer work that does not serve you or them. Just happiness for doing the right thing every single time. Some are a yes. Others a no. All are good because they are right for you!
10. You become an example that they want to follow.
If the person asking you was one of the women sitting in my talk, she would appreciate the honesty and you would become her role model, because you are doing something she wishes could do. You are being honest, sincere, and true to yourself even as you say no.
How You Say No Matters
- Always be kind and considerate.
- Always thank the person for making the offer and considering you.
- Always emphasize that you wish you could be involved and participate.
- Always do it without shame or guilt.
- Always express regret without looking desperately sorry.
- Always close with another thank you.
And most of all, always be true to what you want first.
You are a super smart person. You just need to tune in and listen to what your inner desires are. If you could do it, you would but if you can’t, you owe it to yourself and to the people in your world to be honest. What do you think? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.
Use Your Inner Powers
Bonus: 21-Step Confidence Building Series