Helpful Tips &Techniques for Saying “No”
When is it OK to say “No”?
You ABSOLUTELY MUST Say “No”:
- When you’re stressed or overwhelmed
- When you’re already doing too much
- When you’re tired or sick
You always HAVE A RIGHT to Say “No”:
- When it’s someone else’s issue
- When you feel taken for granted
- When it’s something you don’t want to do
- When there’s something you’d MUCH rather do
- When it takes away from your values and wishes
- When you deserve or need some time to yourself
- Tell the truth: ALWAYS find a way to be truthful. There’s nothing worse than being caught in a lie. But you can leave out information (like that you could reschedule an appointment, so you are available) to protect your “No”…
- Timing can be everything: No does not mean “No forever”. Sometimes you just need time or circumstances to be right. So, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into giving a response if you’re not ready. Sometimes you just need time to figure out if it’s really a “No”, a “Not now” or a “Never”.
- Stay firm: People who are used to relying on you saying yes will try to persuade you. Don’t get drawn into the discussion. Just repeat your No and have phrases ready. “I’m unavailable”, “I can’t right now,” or “I have other commitments”.
- A simple “No, but thanks for asking/thinking of me.”
- A simple “I’m already doing ________ / have a dentist appointment”
BUY YOURSELF TIME – when unsure how you feel or need time to prepare a response
- “I’m away from my desk right now, can I let you know once I have my calendar in front of me?”
- “I’m just in the middle of something/a tight deadline. Can I get back to you tomorrow/next week?”
DEFERRAL – good for other people’s problems and issues
- “I’m crazy busy this week/month. Can it wait until next week/month?”
TRANSFER – good for maintaining relationships and still being helpful
- Suggest who else could do it, “I know John loves that kind of thing”
- “I don’t feel comfortable/have enough experience to help you with that, but Sarah might be able to.”
RETURNING THE NO – good for those who take advantage of your good nature!
- “I can’t do it right now – but I could show you how for yourself.”
REQUESTING PRIORITY – good for dealing with your boss/when you’re at work!
- Ask for the priority. “Which one do you think I need to focus on first?”
OR “If I do this, what would you like me to stop working on?”
PRIORITIZING YOURSELF – stay in control of your life and feel good about you!
- “I’d love to help but I’m focusing on ________ (this report) right now”
OR “I don’t have time for anything except ________ (this project/my family) at the moment.”