Last week I wrote about the value of sometimes saying “no”, even though it can be hard to say and hard to hear.

If you tend to give an automatic “yes”, especially to things you really don’t want to do, you can ease into a “no” by substituting “I’ll think about it.”

Other approaches include:

Softening your language: “I’m not comfortable with that.”   “I’d rather not.” “That sounds like a good/nice/interesting plan, but I’m not able to…”

(Psychology Today recommends the “Oreo” approach, where you sandwich a tactful no inside two compliments, “That is a creative solution but I won’t be able to join you, although I know you will be successful in creating just the right team for this.”)

Containing your feelings:  Feeling and portraying calmness not only helps you, but reduces the negative repercussions from the rejection caused by a no.

Referencing others (either internally or externally):  When your remember and reference others, it helps bolster your case, especially in negotiations, whether it’s because you need more time with your family, or you need a raise, or you’re protecting your organization.

Rehearsing and repeating:  It’s easier to say no, if you’ve rehearsed in advance.  If you’re not really heard when you say no, continue to be respectful and repeat it.  “I’m not able to take this on right now because my plate is too full.”  If the other person continues to argue after you’ve made your case, you can simply repeat, “I’m not able to take this on because my plate is too full.”

In a personal conversation, you can always cut the conversation short by saying, “Let’s end this for now, it’s clear we disagree.”

Particularly if you are an over-giver, being able to say no can help you define relationships and boundaries, establish life-work balance, give you back energy, reinforce your personal integrity, and allow you to specialize in what’s truly meaningful to you.

May we pursue our paths, remembering to say no where it matters,

Best wishes,

Elizabeth