It’s common to presume that saying “yes” to everything is simply easier. After all, you don’t want to hurt or disappoint anyone. However, this pressure to please people creates havoc with your schedule, as you prioritise everything but your own life. Understand that it’s not selfish to protect your own interests. In fact, when you do so, the help you can offer others is much more effective.
Be decisive about prioritising your own activities.
Don’t second-guess the importance of your own activities
If saying “yes” to someone means saying “no” to yourself, you’re not effectively prioritising your own life.
Unless someone you know is having a crisis and sincerely needs you, know that your activities are just as important as everyone else’s. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you’re prioritising something, even if it seems minor in comparison. For example, if your friend asks you to babysit on Saturday, but you’ve set aside the whole day to organise your home office in order to increase your productivity, stick to your guns.
Yes, you’ll be at home, which is probably why you’d feel guilty saying “no”. However, babysitting means no time to focus on your systems properly and perhaps dragging out the task for another week. Remember, this is just as important to you, as your friend’s weekend plans are to them. If saying “yes” to someone means saying “no” to yourself, you’re not effectively prioritising your own life.
The more you practice saying “no” politely, the easier it’ll become.
Practice reframing the word
There are hundreds of ways to say “no”, to take the sting out of it for you and the recipient. So you’re not caught off guard, practice a few phrases you can use in most situations. For example, for events you can’t attend for whatever reason, try, “Thanks for thinking of me, that sounds lovely, but I’ve got other commitments at that time.” Or, “I’m sorry I can’t come to that one, but I’ll let you know if I can make the next.” Like anything else, the more you practice saying “no” politely, the easier it’ll become.
Whether manipulation is deliberate or not, becoming aware of motives helps you say “no” without guilt. Let’s say a charity calls and tells you most people donate $100. Immediately, you’ll feel guilty donating anything less, which is exactly why the tactic is successful.
However, perhaps that week you’ve allocated the money to your investment. You want to donate, but next month would be more suitable. When you’re aware of the pressure, you cease to feel it and can confidently respond in a way that suits you, while still helping others.
Last, but not least, each time you say “yes” because you think you should, rather than actually wanting to, pause to reflect why. Most likely, it’s because in the process of honouring others, you’re directly dishonouring yourself in some way. When you think about it that way, saying the tiny word “no”, is a small thing indeed.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.