Learning to Say No

One of my biggest problems is the inability to say “no. At times, I end up taking on too much, preventing me to focus on significant things that matter or causing me to be stressed and overwhelmed. Saying no is a powerful skill that needs to be cultivated with practice.

The underlying issue is that I don’t feel completely comfortable passing tasks down the chain because I know they will not be able do as thorough a job that I would. It may brush off as arrogance, but it is a natural feeling to have and it’s not necessarily a bad one. Mayoclinic has a pretty good article on learning to say no…

From Mayoclinic:

Consider these reasons for saying no:

  • Saying no isn’t necessarily selfish. When you say no to a new commitment, you’re honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote quality time to them.
  • Saying no can allow you to try new things. Just because you’ve always helped plan the company softball tournament doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing it forever. Saying no will give you time to pursue other interests.
  • Always saying yes isn’t healthy. When you’re overcommitted and under too much stress, you’re more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick.
  • Saying yes can cut others out. On the other hand, when you say no you open the door for others to step up. They may not do things exactly the way you would, but that’s OK. They’ll find their own way.

How to say no

No. Nope. Nah. See how simple it is to say one little word, allowing you to take a pass on tasks that don’t make the cut? Of course, there will be times when it’s just not that easy. Here are some things to keep in mind when you need to say no:

  • Say no. The word “no” has power. Don’t be afraid to use it. Be careful about using wimpy substitute phrases, such as “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can.” These can be interpreted to mean that you might say yes later.
  • Be brief. State your reason for refusing the request, but don’t go on about it. Avoid elaborate justifications or explanations.
  • Be honest. Don’t fabricate reasons to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker.
  • Be respectful. Many good causes land at your door and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the group’s effort while saying that you can’t commit at this time shows that you respect what they’re trying to accomplish.
  • Be ready to repeat. You may find it necessary to refuse a request several times before the other person accepts your response. When that happens, just hit the replay button. Calmly repeat your no, with or without your original rationale, as needed.


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