Almost all the women I’ve worked with have trouble saying no. It’s a common issue for us females as we’ve been generally raised and socialized to please and fit in. Often times we associate saying no with horrible consequences – the ending of relationships, anger, someone not liking us – and so there’s a little bit (or even a huge amount) of fear associated with saying no. And when we do say no, we feel like we have to explain our entire life’s situation just to make saying no OK.
Here’s a revolutionary idea – NO is a great freedom producing, boundary setting, taking care of myself kind of word, and, there is no need for excuses when I say no! Believe it? If you’re skeptical or know already that saying no is not your greatest strength, then read on for the 5 easy ways to incorporate saying no in your life. Bumper sticker – NO = freedom!
1. Determine when to say NO. Believe it or not women so regularly say yes, that they’re not so clear when to say no. Figuring this out requires you to listen to yourself. When someone asks you to do something or asks you for something, check with your Self - is this something you want to do or give? Most times when we’re listening we can clearly hear a resounding yes or no from our Self. If you’re not sure, then it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ and then get back to that person when you do.
2. Just say NO. Go ahead, say it. Someone asks you for lunch. You’re really not that interested for whatever reason. Say no. OK, maybe you want to fluff it up a bit so it’s no so cold sounding. How ‘bout:
- Unfortunately I’m just not available for get-togethers right now
- Thanks for asking, but I can’t commit to that right now
- I appreciate your thought, but I’m not planning lunches out right
3. Resist the urge to explain. While there may be times when an explanation is useful or necessary, often times we simply give way more information than we need in hopes that it will soften the NO. Most of the time you don’t have to give an explanation at all.
4. Repeat yourself like a broken record. When you begin to say no there are some people in your life who won’t believe you. You may get challenged as to why you cannot or will not do something. Remember, you do not need to explain. Saying no is enough. Just repeat your initial statement – over and over if necessary.
5. State what you are willing to do (if anything). If you feel that you can respond with an alternative then do so; however, it is not necessary. Make sure that if you offer an alternative it is something that you truly are OK with and you are not offering it as a way to feel better about saying NO.
6. Bonus Tip! Leave emotion out of it. Sometimes we may feel angry that people ask us for things or won’t take no for an answer. Consider this – you have trained these people how to treat you! Really, you have. They may be rude people, but it is you who are allowing the behavior to continue. It’s not fair to get angry at the people you’ve so considerately trained. Just consistently say no, without anger, and you’ll train them to your new boundaries.
Here’s a sample, just in case you’re still not sure how this works.
A – Hi Bea. I’m calling because I need some help on the school fundraising committee and you’ve been so helpful before. Our meeting is tomorrow; will you be there?
Bea – No, I won’t be there, but I wish you well in fundraising this year.
A – Well, I was really hoping that you could take over the coordination this year. You’re so good at it and none of the other parents have time. You’re my last hope.
Bea – Thanks for the compliment, but I can’t take that on this year.
A – I just don’t know what I’ll do then. I’ve talked with everyone else and you’re the only person I know who will do a good job.
Bea – I appreciate your confidence and I can’t help with fundraising this year. I’d be happy give Jane a call and see if she’s interested. She’s really good at organization.
A – Well, OK. I’m just sorry you don’t want to be involved.
Bea – OK then, I’ll call Jane now and have her call you if she’s interested. Thanks for calling.
Maya Angelou said it well – “I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. "Got it? Great! Saying NO is one of the best ways that a woman can take care of herself. While you may feel that saying no is selfish, it really is about taking extraordinary care of yourself. If you are not taking care of yourself, then you just don’t have it to give to others – you can’t water a garden with an empty bucket!
So go out now and practice. If this is a big issue for you, then find some easy folks to say no to. Then, practice, practice, practice. You will develop your own words and phrases that are comfortable for you. It will get easier, just like learning any new skill. There really is power in just saying NO!
Copyright 2005 Catherine A. Bruns. This article may be reprinted in full with the following attached: Life Coach Catherine Bruns coaches women to achieve great success in their personal and professional lives.
For more information visit http://www.coachbalance.com