How to Say "No" & Mean It: The Fine Art of Saying "No" & How to Find Your Stronger "Yes" by Melissa Vickers
“If you need something done, ask a busy person!” How many times have you heard that? It is a strategy that works great for the person doing the asking, but isn’t necessarily ideal for the busy person who is all too likely to say yes – again.
The very act of saying no – or yes – is a complex one. Sometimes we say yes when we really mean no; sometimes we say yes when we mean maybe; often we just say whatever we feel the other person wants to hear, which, of course, is most often “Sure, I’ll do that!” And if we say no, then we have to deal with the guilt afterwards, whether self-inflicted or not.
A couple of principles learned from a time management seminar on setting priorities really stuck with me:
- The only way to say no and not feel guilty is by having a stronger yes! The yes might be a previous commitment of time like a doctor’s appointment, but it can also be a previous commitment of philosophy as well. And that leads to the second principle...
- If you want to accomplish anything in life, you have to know where you are going! Knowing what your goals are helps you identify those stronger yeses. It allows us to say, “No, I can’t help at the school fair because I’ll be volunteering at the local wildlife refuge.” Even if you don’t verbalize your priorities to others, it can help you gather the collective gumption to say no and mean it.
So how do we put these two principles into action?
- Decide what people, things, ideas, etc., are truly important to you.
- When asked to take on a new responsibility, ask yourself how it might fit in with your priorities and goals.
- Remember that saying yes to a lot of little tasks that are outside of your priorities can add up fast!
- View each potential responsibility or task as not only something that will take up your time, but also as an opportunity to grow, meet new people or learn new skills.
- It’s OK to say no to something that fits your goals and priorities, and it is OK to say yes to something that doesn’t. That’s what makes life interesting!
- Just because something needs doing, it doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do it.
There are only 24 hours in a day for everybody, so try to plan as much of your life around your strong YES priorities! Good luck!
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