Saturday, 25 February 2012

LifeCircle 2012: Saying no

Life Circle

I was going to set a task that led on from last week's but I think I need to see more of your posts before I do that. (*cough* hint *cough*). However, in the meantime, I'm going to set you another task that will teach you a useful skill that you need to have in your toolbox because it will help you to achieve your goals more quickly.

That skill is saying no.

We are all so polite. We don't like to say no, even when we want to. Saying yes when you mean no can cause stress - taking on too much takes us away from the things we really want or need to do, and just adds to our to-do list. Once we learn to say no, our yes truly does mean yes and our no means no.

People don't like to be impolite, and feel they are letting others down by saying no, or saying no means they are rejecting the person asking. But unless you are Supermand or Superwoman, at some point in your life, you have to say no. If you want to stay sane, that is.

In most cases, people would actually prefer you to be straight with them. Saying no when asked is infinitely preferable to saying yes when you mean no, followed by procrastination, or deliberate avoidance, leading to issues between you and the person making the request. They will have more respect for you if you say no when you mean no rather than let them down. And saying yes without ever intending to do anything is just plain rude.

All it really takes is to stay calm and polite. There is no need to apologise, you've not done anything wrong. In many situations, a simple "No" or "No thank you" may suffice. Alternatively, you could acknowledge why someone is asking you to do something, or give a reason for saying no. For example, "I really can't take this on because work is very busy at the moment. I know why you are asking but I don't want to let you down.".

Another way is to say no for now. In the example above, you could add on the end, "Ask me again in a couple of weeks if you can't find anyone else and I might be able to do it for you if work is less busy." That puts the person off but also doesn't oblige you to take on the task. If they do ask again later, you could still say no.  If it was a lunch date you wanted to go on but really can't right now, you could just arrange another day.

What also can be successful is to find out more about what you're being asked to do and perhaps negotiate it to something more interesting or less onerous. "I can't do all of that, but if you help me, we'll get it done quicker anyway. How about that?" or "Can I just ring the top half of that list? I could manage to ring that many." are things you could say to say no without actually saying no!

If all else fails, and the person making the request is persistent and keeps asking or trying to persuading you to agree, then adopt what they call "the broken record approach". Just keep saying the same thing over and over again - no need for explanation. This actually works really well with children, although it's often much harder to stay calm and polite with a demanding child who won't take no for an answer!

Now you know all that about saying no, it's time for you to practice. Stay aware over the next few days and if someone asks you to do something you don't want to do or you feel you shouldn't be doing, have a go at turning them down using one of the techniques mentioned above. Don't ever feel you have to say yes to everything and think hard about whether you overcommit as a matter of course. Ask yourself what good it does you not to say no just to keep everyone else happy because usually, it comes at a cost - your happiness (and your free time!).

Try it out as many times as you like, then blog about how it went, how you felt, and whether you got better at it the more times you do it. In some ways, this is like the previous task, because for a lot of people, saying no pushes them right out of their comfort zone. Stick with it though. I know you can do it.

As we're back to normal now, the linky will be published on Thursday, but will remain open for two weeks in case you need more time to practice turning people down and listening to yourself say no.

Just say no. You'll be glad you did.
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