If you’re like me, you could do with saying “no” to more things in work and life.

You know you shouldn’t be nice to others at the expense of yourself, but you still struggle to stop doing it. Why?

Maybe you’re scared of saying “no” because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, seem rude, or cause conflict. And, when it comes down to it, you’re probably a nice person who wants to help in any way you can.

These are misleading feelings though, and when you don’t say “no” because of them you end up giving other people everything they want at your expense.

You, just like they, have your priorities and needs, and saying “no” is about respecting your time. Once you start saying “no” you’ll realize it’s not nearly as bad as you thought it would be — all those fears of saying “no” pale in comparison to the benefits.

How you say “no” is just as important as the fact that you’re saying “no”. You need to do it directly and clearly, with no leeway for misinterpretation.

Try to avoid phrasing like “let me think about it” (which is more of a “maybe” than a “no”). Rather, use direct wording like:

  • Now’s not a good time, how about asking me again in X time (a week / a month / a year)?
  • I’m not the best person to help with this, why don’t you try X?
  • I can’t commit to this right now as I have other priorities at the moment.
  • This doesn’t meet my needs right now, thank you.
  • Sorry, no, I can’t.

What do you think you should have said “no” to recently?

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