Shemeka Brathwaite, MSED is a peak performance strategist, keynote speaker, and coach. She is often invited by organizations, associations, and educational institutions to provide inspiring programs on productivity, leadership, and executive presence. Her immersive training programs help professionals learn how to implement new systems that streamline the demands on one’s time, so they can achieve more at work, increase their influence, and live intentionally.
Sometimes we have a hard time telling others “No.” Unfortunately, leaving it unsaid can come at your own expense. You lose time to do the things you really want (or need) to do and you can even feel resentful towards the other person and yourself.
Telling others that you can’t acquiesce to their request doesn't have to be difficult. If you struggle with the concept, here are some ideas you can put to use immediately.
1. Explain that your other commitments are taking up all your time right now. Everyone is too busy at times; the other person will understand that you have a heavy load of other responsibilities. It might help to go into a little detail about the other things you have going on; it will increase their level of understanding.
2. Say that you're in the middle of something and that you'll get back to them. It's not uncommon to get hit with requests for immediate help. You can let them know that you can’t help right now but that you might be able to help soon. If it really is urgent, they’ll find someone else and shouldn't feel resentful towards you.
3. Tell them that you'll think about it. This is more of a “maybe” than an absolute “no.” Avoid using this option if you really do want to say “no.” Take the time you need to consider it and remember to get back to them. You can suggest your own deadline or an alternative that works for better for you if you can’t comply fully with their first request.
4. If someone is trying to sell something to you, tell them that their offering doesn't meet your needs but you'll get back to them if your needs change. This puts an end to the matter quickly without the other person feeling insulted. After all, you're rejecting their product or service; you're not rejecting them personally.
5. Tell them that so-and-so would be a better help. In this case, you're not refusing to help them. In fact, you are helping them by suggesting someone more capable of satisfying their needs.
6. Tell them that you'd like to help, but…. This lets the other party know that you would like their offer or would like to provide assistance to them, but you that you are either too busy or their offer doesn't meet your needs. It's similar to #1 and #4, but is more supportive and encouraging.
If you'll learn to say “no” to the things that you really don't want to do, don't have the time to do, or don't fit your needs, your life will be much richer for it.
Like many other things in life, it gets easier with practice. After you get used to it, you'll be surprised how easy it is and how receptive others can be.
Remember to only tell the truth. One of the options is bound to be true. There's no reason to feel like you’re being dishonest. Now go tell some people “no” and see how much better you feel!
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Greater NYC Area