Saying “no” can be as or more important than saying “yes”…because we rarely have room for “yeses” when our schedules are filled with activities, people and obligations that drain our time and energy.
When we can’t focus on what matters, our work suffers, our life suffers and, worst of all, we suffer as we’re constantly squeezed trying to DO and BE too much.
While we might get a rush from all the busyness or from feeling indispensable, we lose out on the calm, clear confidence that helps us thrive.
So years ago, I came up with the concept of “saying no gracefully" to make the experience of turning things down more comfortable while creating space for what we really want instead.
Make a decision
The first step to setting limits is to give yourself time to decide before you respond to requests.
If it’s a clear yes, it’s easy. If not, you can feel it inside…even if you have no idea how to decline.
For people pleasers and the like, your best response to ANY request that’s not a definite yes is “let me get back to you”. That way, you give yourself space to make a decision and time to consider how to respond appropriately.
Don’t be hard on yourself about getting this right. If you regret a decision, you can either change your mind and circle back or move on and try again at the next opportunity.
Keep it short and sweet
While you might be upset about yet another ask (don’t they know how busy you are!!), it helps to begin with gratitude. “Thanks for thinking of me” or “I appreciate you reaching out” both show respect.
After that, short and sweet is best…a tough one for many, including me, which is why I practice. Keep it simple with “I’m not available” or “I’m all set with that in my business” adding a brief bit of detail only if necessary.
Resist the urge to make lengthy excuses if you feel stuck or apologize because you feel guilty. You can always work those feelings out with someone you trust who’s not directly involved.
Close the door
Sometimes I find myself saying “maybe next time” or “I’ll let you know if things change” when I know my response is really a hard (and forever) “no”.
Instead of leaving the door open, just say “wishing you much success”…and you are complete. While you might get asked again later, you’ve at least made your “no” as clear as possible from the start.
So putting it all together can be as simple as…
“Thanks so much for letting me know. While (the activity, event, experience) sounds great, I’m not available (or it's not right for me). Wishing you success with it and have a wonderful day too.”
Congrats in advance on saying no gracefully…and making more room for YES :).
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