We’ve all heard it before, sometimes you have to learn to say no. While this is a profound and simple statement, the follow through is difficult. Most of us often struggle with how to say no without feeling guilty whether this is in our personal lives, while at work or while conducting business - personal or professional.
In our personal lives we have friends and family we don’t want to ‘let down,’ while at work we don’t want to be ‘that’ person who always wants it his or her way, and when conducting business, we don’t want to come across as being the one who must have it their way.
However, it is possible to say no without feeling guilty in all of these situations.
How to say no in your personal life
Often, this involves figuring out how to say no after saying yes.
So how do you handle a situation that you’ve committed to doing, and then realized it may be something that you simply don’t want to do or don’t have the time or resources for?
It’s an old saying but, honesty is the best policy. Simply be truthful with your friend or relative - if the person is a true friend (or an understanding close relative), he or she will appreciate, understand and respect the fact that you can admit that you have over extended yourself. In fact, friends will admire your ability to admit your shortcomings.
Sometimes, the closer people are to you, the harder it is to learn to say no without feeling guilty. Remember, that if people are truly friends they will understand when you say no. This will take some time and practice - yes practice - but after awhile you will feel better about your decisions and know that you’re not over-extending yourself.
How to say no at work
When most of us are new to a job or a career, we generally say yes to everything because we wonder how to say no at work politely. However, as a great supervisor once shared, an employee who stands out from the rest is one who can understand his or her limits and learn to say no at work.
We are all taught not to use the phrase ‘It’s not my job,’ but sometimes the task being asked of you is simply ‘not your job.’ A key to being successful in the workplace is figuring out where that boundary lies and when it’s okay to say no.
Once you figure out where that boundary is, you must learn how to say no at work without feeling guilty. While it is true that your co-workers and supervisors are counting on you to do your part for the team, many of them will also not hold ill-feelings if you say no to a task that really isn’t yours.
Again, the best advice is practice. Over time you will recognize how refreshing it is to focus on what is truly expected of you. After a while, you will probably realize how much easier - and not to mention more enjoyable - it is to do your job, as well as, be around coworkers.
How to say no in business
Let’s use the example of volunteering on an advisory board. Whether you are representing yourself as a private citizen or your place of employment, one obstacle we may encounter is being asked to do something for the organization that you really are not equipped to do. However, you are concerned saying no will make you look as though you are an unwilling participant. But rest assured, you can learn how to say no politely in these business situations. AND, not only is it possible to say no in these settings, but you can also feel confident about saying no without feel guilty.
We all have our own unique set of strengths and things that drive us - our goals, desires and passions. Being more in-tune with yourself and learning what those things are will help when presented with situations such as these. Not only will you be able to say no for valid reasons, but it will also help you in learning to say no without explaining yourself. In the end, if it’s something that your heart just isn’t in, it is okay to say no. Over time, you will find practicing the “just say no” philosophy will get easier and easier.
While all these things may seem simple on the surface, they are all indeed things that take time and practice to master. Saying no without feeling guilt is certainly a learned behavior. For many of us, it doesn’t come easy, which means we must practice it.
So let’s get to practicing! Take an overall inventory of your personal and professional goals along with your passions. Then next time something is thrown your way, you can easily identify those things that should be given a big N-O!