Just say it with me, “No!”
I can't hear you (but I can hear every two year old within a 10 mile radius screaming it)….come on, you can say it. It's not hard! It's just two tiny letters.
Why is it that one of the first words we learn in life is one of the hardest to say? It's normal for toddlers to say this word. It's how they learn to be more independent and how they start to tell their parents that it's time to back off a little so they can begin to learn new skills. And they say it so well, so loudly, so proudly, and without guilt.
Fast forward to now. When was the last time you said “no” when someone asked you to do something? When was the last time you said “no” without feeling guilty? When was the last time you felt less stress because you had actually listened to yourself and what you knew would be helpful to you in your life?
There's more than one way to say, “No!”
If you would love to say no, but the very idea almost makes you have a panic attack, here are some other ways you can do it to get you in the groove.
- Have a policy to never say, “Yes” to anything on the spot. When someone asks you, just say, “I have a rule to always think things over before I say, “Yes!” Walk away, say thank you for letting you know about the opportunity, or change the subject. (Or, if that's a bit too much, say, “I'll think about it.” Short and sweet.)
- Don't go to the door or answer the phone if you know what's coming. It's easy to feel a slight pang of guilt for not answering every ding and every ring. But if it's less stress in the end to just not answer than it is to come up with a polite way to say “no,” then just avoid it! You're saying no in a different way.
- Show appreciation and gratitude for the offer (without accepting). It's easy to feel coerced into saying “yes” to something because it's an honor to be asked. You don't want to be rude or unappreciative. But just because they feel it's a good fit for how you should spend your time, that does not guarantee that it fits in with your time demands or your goals. Say, “Thank you for the opportunity. It's nice of you to ask me. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to say no.” (Caution: do not give too much information here or they will find a way to solve the “reason” why you can't help them out. Refer to the e-book in the side column “Is Stress Controlling Your Life?” for more info on not giving too much of an explanation.)
Saying “no” is hard for many people. But it's definitely one of the keys to being able to cut down on the stress in your life. The big key here: practice makes perfect! When you are clear on your goals and needs and you're committed to them, saying “no” gets easier and easier, no guilt, no hard feelings, and it actually boosts your confidence.
Give it a try!