The Art of Saying No

The Art of Saying No

Happiness starts at no.

By Leith Wilson | 29th September 2016

Is your to-do list so long that you might just drown in it? Have you got obligation after obligation, deadline after deadline?

I know the feeling. You see, I, like many people, have a big fat fear of saying no.

“Oh, it’s 4.47 and you want that by 5pm? Of course I can make that happen!” (*hysterical laugh*) “Oh, you want to push your deadline forward two weeks and still have us deliver EVERYTHING? Yep. No problem. That is totally fine. 110 per cent perfect. I’ll just… no, I don’t mind sleeping at my desk.”

SOUND FAMILIAR? That is because we are Yes People.

This is not a good thing.

In fact, an article released by Forbes notes that the more difficult it is for you to say no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnouts and even depression.

If you’re a Yes Person, that probably won’t come as a surprise to you. I know that saying no can be a major challenge but the stress that comes from over-commitment is the biggest burden of all. So to help you say no WITHOUT having heart palpitations, here are some simple yet effective strategies.

Sandwich time

Have you heard of the breakup sandwich? “You’re such a great person. You’re just not the right person for me. But you will make someone so happy some day.”

Basically it is two compliments surrounded by the big, bad breakup. This framework is the perfect way to break the news in a kind but to-the-point manner. Think of it like coupling the no with two yeses.

EXAMPLE: Your manager asks, “Can you work this weekend? We’ve had a last-minute job and need everyone on deck.”

You can’t work this weekend. You have a family wedding to attend. What do you say?

“I would love to help! [YES] But I have a family wedding this weekend and unfortunately I won’t be able to come in. [NO] Is there anything else I could do in the meantime to help? [YES]”

Be honest

If you’re just not up for going out with friends and would rather stay at home with a glass of vino, eating a pepperoni pizza and watching Bridget Jones’s Diaries in your onesie, that is a 100 per cent valid life choice.

Sometimes saying no is about our personal health or getting some of that much-needed “me time”. While it can be daunting to break the news to your group of friends, 99 per cent of the time they’ll understand if you just tell them the truth.

So instead of creating an elaborate excuse about how your partner’s mother’s sister’s dog got run over and you HAVE to be there for moral support, be honest. Tell your friends you’ve had a massive week at work and are too exhausted to go out. Maybe suggest an alternate time to catch up instead!

The Art of Saying No, saying no, learn to say no, no means no

Image: Giphy

Keep it simple

Whenever you have to say no, don’t get caught up in a lengthy explanation. Weirdly enough, the longer and more detailed your excuse, the more insincere it seems. Keep things short, simple, and to-the-point.

You don’t need to justify your reasoning in detail and nine times out of 10 the person you’re saying no to doesn’t want to hear it. They just want to find someone else who can do the thing you said no to.

Just remember to always be respectful when breaking the news. It can be as simple as, “Oh that sounds great, but I can’t make it; I already have other plans.”

The Art of Saying No, saying no, learn to say no, no means no

Image: Giphy

Remember what comes first

Before you say no to anything, think about the alternative and its importance. For example, if a friend asks you out to dinner but you have a deadline to complete, which comes first? If you go out to dinner can you get your work done in time? Or could you maybe move dinner to another night to meet your deadline?

Exploring the options before you say no (or yes) will eliminate high stress situations and allow you to approach the situation in a clear and logical manner.

Say no

Make no mistake: if you can’t go to something, or simply don’t want to go, don’t be flimsy. It is everyone’s pet hate when someone says yes, then bails about 10 minutes before (we all have that one friend).

So instead of beating around the bush with maybes and tentative yeses, just tell it straight, and make sure you are clear in your articulation.

“I should be able to come, but I also have to go to a work function that night.”

WHAT.DOES.THAT.MEAN?! Just say no. No. Just NO, people.

Repeat after me: “No, sorry, I can’t make it.”

Simple! Now if you find out that you CAN go, it’s a nice surprise for the other person rather than “Oh, they bailed at the last-minute AGAIN.”

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Remember all those times you weren’t planning to go out? You stayed strong until your bestie begged and begged (or until the mojitos were brought out) and finally you caved.

Whenever you say no, be prepared for the other half to refuse your response. Even if you’ve used the sandwich technique. To avoid doing something you’re really not that into, you must dig in your heels and be prepared to calmly reaffirm your response. Eventually the other person will come around to the fact that you are not changing your mind.

The Art of Saying No, saying no, learn to say no, no means no

Image: Giphy


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Article by Leith Wilson

A lover of ice-cream, travel, adventure seeking and fashion, Leith is a former Journalist at Style Magazines and is always on the hunt for her next pair of heels or foodie spot to squash her avocado obsession.


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