No. It’s a two letter word which has a lot of power over each of us. Whether no means saying yes to something you don’t want to do or passing up an opportunity, read on to discover three simple strategies for how to say a guilt free no.
What you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to. It’s important to remember that each time you say yes when you’d rather say no, it means you’re giving up something else. I like to think of it in terms of economics where we talk about the opportunity cost. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another and vice versa. Your time is finite, you have the power to choose how you spend it.
Tip #1. Think before you commit.
Ask yourself, ‘what am I giving up if I say yes to this?’ or ‘if I say no, what are the implications?’ Many of us feel as though we need to give a response immediately when someone asks us if we want to do something. Whether it’s working overtime, helping out a friend or attending an event, our default response is yes.
Instead of giving an answer straight away, politely say that you will think about it and get back to them in due course. You may even want to say something such as ‘would you mind if I get back to you, I want to check my calendar first?’ By being polite, it shows the person that you are taking time to consider your response. Also, be sure to specify when you’ll let them know (ie. by the end of the day or week) and move on to tip number two.
Tip #2. Keep it simple.
If you are going to say no to someone, keep it simple. Often we feel that it’s necessary to conjure up a complicated reason to justify our no. In reality, we don’t need to make up an elaborate story, we can just keep it brief.
You can simply say, ‘I am unable to attend the event’, ‘I already have something planned for that day’ or ‘thanks but no thank you.’ If someone wants a reason you can give one but a simple no will often suffice, much to our surprise.
Tip #3. Stick by your decision.
Honor your decision. Whilst most people don’t mind if you say no straight away, they make get frustrated if you cancel last minute with a flimsy excuse because you said yes when you wanted to say no.
In my early 20’s, I cancelled last minute on my friends on many occasions. I said yes when I wanted to say no and in the days leading up to the event, I was racking my brain for a way to get out of it. Not only did I feel guilty for cancelling last minute, I wasted time and energy trying to think of a reason to cancel. Instead, I now choose to honour my decisions and be honest with others when I don’t want to do something.
You are allowed to say yes or no. Give yourself permission to say either. If each of us said yes to every invitation or request from another, we wouldn’t have much control over our lives and how we spend our time. You are your own person and you have the power to choose how you spend your time. If you say yes when you wish you had say no, chances are you won’t enjoy the event.
You’ll be feeling anxious up to the event and bring a negative energy with you because you may be wanting to be anywhere else but there. Same goes with taking on extra projects at work or helping out others, if you have too much on, you’ll become burnt out and even resentful if you don’t feel appreciated.
Live life for you, fill your time with projects, people and events which light you up rather than fill you with dread. Give yourself permission to say no and say yes to the things you want. Value your time and your own voice.