Saying ‘yes’ to every request for your time may win you friends in the short run but is likely to leave you feeling burdened and exhausted.
Ever notice how some people just have the knack to do this well? They are able to empathise with you so you feel ‘heard’, use the right words so you don’t feel abandoned and yet you’re clear that their answer is no.
I’m working with several senior clients at the moment who tell me that they find it difficult to say ‘no’ to the many people in their lives who need/make demands on their time at work and at home. It’s a common issue and one which is worth figuring out. If you don’t, over time it can lead to a build up of resentment as your needs move further down the pile, after everyone else’s.
I’m not advocating saying ‘no’ to all requests for your support but I am certainly saying learn to filter out those where you can help the most and protect your own time where you can.
So how can you learn to protect yourself better?
Here are just 3 tips to get you started.
If someone is asking you for something; this could be your time, expertise, etc. don’t feel that you have to respond right there and then. It’s okay to give yourself some thinking time, to work out if you do have time to commit or not. Tell them you’ll get back to them and say when you’ll do this.
2. Learn how to say ‘no’ in a respectful way
If you have to say no, then learn how to do it well. How you say something matters – a lot. Don’t be ambiguous, leave the person in no doubt that it’s a ‘no’. But you can soften the words without them losing their meaning. So starting with a ‘I’m really sorry’ or ‘I feel I’m always saying no to your requests’ might work for you. Always explain why you can’t help and always offer what you can do instead, if anything.
3. Don’t feel guilty
Feelings of guilt seem to plague too many people. If you have respectfully said no to the specific request, (having assessed your other commitments) and you can’t offer other meaningful alternatives then that is that. Unless of course the guilt helps in some way?
What do you do that allows you to say ‘no’ gracefully? Go ahead and share your thoughts in the box below.