First and foremost, most of us who are in tune with learning about ourselves, who focus on self-reflection, and self-improvements are probably pleasers by nature. We help people all the time: we offer our advice, whether it’s asked of us or not, and we probably don’t say no!
We are serial doers and helpers who are there whenever people ask us for our opinion or a favor. As pleasers, we want to help, we want to be effective, and we want to make life easier for others.
This is a good quality. However, if we are not careful, this can lead us to a negative headspace full of dark emotions, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, or just being so busy that we cannot focus on ourselves.
Instead of pushing ourselves to this point, it is imperative that we learn to say “No!”
Saying no is important.
Many of us who are people pleasers would agree with this, which beckons the question: “Iif we understand that saying “No” more often is needed, then why do we not do it?
I believe that we avoid saying no because we are nervous that it will be a negative experience. If we say “no,” we could hurt the other person’s feelings, deny them the help that they need, or leave them without a support system.
By saying no, we could risk feeling uncomfortable or awkward or like we have failed someone in some way.
What if I told you that there is a way to say no while also avoiding many of these feelings of awkwardness?
How to say No
1. Set Personal Boundaries
I sometimes get a little too busy and i’ve actually had to learn to set boundaries for myself when I help people. For example, as a business coach, I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, for 12 to 15 hours each day. On any of these days, if you approached me about setting up a meeting at 7 p.m, I’ll say yes. However, Thursday, Friday, and the weekends are set aside for myself and my family.
So, if you approached me and said “Hey, Ed, are you able to meet with me on Thursday at 8pm?”, the answer is no!
This is because I have set this boundary for myself and I know that by accepting this meeting, I will be allowing my work life to intrude on my personal life, my mental wellness, and my family time. This might sound a little selfish, but by establishing clear boundaries to care for myself and my needs I am able to be more effective in helping others.
2. Have a strategy in Place to Say “No”
It sounds silly, but if you are not used to saying “No” you might need to adopt some strategies to use as you acclimate to this new practice. Identify a few key phrases that you could use when saying “No” that will both elevate you and the other person. For example, you could say “I’m honored but i can’t”
By saying this, you are acknowledging that you feel super excited that they thought of you but that you are unavailable. You are letting them down softly. um unfortunately
A second strategy is saying “I would love to hear more about this, but now is not the best time – could I get back to you in about an hour?”
This strategy is great if you do not do well under pressure. It allows you to take a step back from the proposition and collect your thoughts. In this approach, you are acknowledging your feelings, letting them know that you are intrigued, and setting up a point in the future to talk with them more. This is extremely beneficial with phone calls, for example. Sometimes we are so busy that the simple act of answering a phone brings about feelings of stress and anxiety. DO NOT LET THAT STRESS INTO YOUR LIFE! Simply let them know that now is not a good time, but you are available later.
3. Have a Calendar and Know your Commitments and Time Constraints
Sometimes we say yes because we think we can do more than we actually are able to. We forget everything on our calendars and the different obligations that we have. By maintaining a calendar and outlining everything we need to do, we can better plan. This will help us to say no, or better manage the needs of ourselves and others as they arise.
Having a calendar will invite balance and understanding into our lives. When creating your calendar, schedule everything.
Do you have an important meeting? Schedule it! Do you have dinner with your family each night? Schedule it! Do you watch a specific show on Tuesday nights? Schedule it! Also, do not forget to schedule times to prepare for meetings, finish tasks at your job, go out – or even to do nothing at all! If you schedule it, you are less likely to overbook!
4. Forgive Yourself
The last, and most important piece of advice is to learn to forgive yourself. Understand this, you cannot be all things to all people. If you try, you will lose yourself in the process. You are special, you are wonderful, and you are uniquely you. The world NEEDS you to be you. Don’t lose yourself in other people. If you cannot help them while maintaining your personal balance, that is okay! Say no, forgive yourself, move on from those negative feelings, and have confidence that you made the best decision that you could in the moment.