Saying No is No art! Whenever you say YES, where you should have told NO, you sabotage your unconditional urge to please people, while thinking otherwise. In an effort to not slap them on the face where the mosquito was sipping, you pretended it to be a butterfly. Eventually you let the host take the fall. Fall sick. Sometimes even of you! While you could have explained the slap and saved them from the misery, you let them believe you cared, you actually didn’t. Saying Yes in the place of No is exactly that!
How else could you say no to the demanding obligations that are no match to your strengths or intentions?
I remember this joke about a simple exercise to stay fit. All you had to do is move your head from left to right and right to left. When asked when all and how long should you do this? The expert replied whenever you are offered junk to eat and until you are no longer offered. It’s the physical gesture to say No, when words fail to say the obvious.
But is saying No, really a tough one? Well, if that were so easy, why would I write about one or you read about one? The fact that it is sometimes tough to say NO is nothing to be ashamed of. It is indeed a challenge to everybody not just to you. But learning to acknowledge, that you are either under doing it or over doing it, will effectively start to make things clear.
Acknowledging anything is the first step of making an effort to understand it and resolve it or even collaborate with it.
How can you say No unapologetically and also not come as rude outright?
There are a hundred of worthy articles that explain the art of saying NO. But every one of them, like the few listed below, focuses on the way of saying NO, but not rationalising them.
- Be clear about your decision. Just because you are practicing the art of saying NO, it doesn’t mean, you say No to everything that comes your way. Is it something you really need to decline or something you are selfishly or lazily avoiding? Once you arrive at a decision, supported with arguments favouring yours either way, your conscience is clear too.
- Be firm when you say NO, so people know that you mean it. But definitely not to the extent of, being thought rude. While you owe no explanations to your decisions always, it is your responsibility to make them understand you are being genuine.
- Suggest alternative when you think it has to be attended. Though YOU may not have time on your hands to help them with their request, you can always suggest an alternative that will help them deal with it, if you know ONE. Saying NO doesn’t mean Never Offer Your help, it only means that you have your own priorities and cannot afford to be distracted right then.
- Schedule later to comeback to it, if you can. When you really think you can add value to it, learn something out of it. If you are only time tied, you can always offer to help them at a later time. But promise only if you truly intend to deal with it. Procrastinating is an instinctive response when you fear saying NO. Even for your own work. So when you assure to look into it later, MEAN it. Else you could always go back to the other three above.
Honestly, you cannot always be a good person to someone (the one you just tried to please) even if you say yes! Your hundred other promises, like the image in your car mirror, are closer than they appear! You don’t want to add more right? Finally something is making sense!
The list like I mentioned earlier can help you with pointers to say No. But, on an emotional level, if helping others is all you prefer and is your reason for living, then you might want to make phew changes.
- Organise your time to make space for such requests and align them. You might already be familiar with the time quadrants that help you manage your time better. If there is a request that falls under the category “not urgent and not important” as in the quadrant, you know what to do.
- Prioritise requests. Some pop-up uninvited, some ride your weak spot and some have no dang clue of why it even got posed to you. But being open minded believing there is scope for learning in everything is little saintly. However if you have already assigned your time for something, do not steal from it. But queue them if possible and assist them as you please.
- Have no regrets, for doing something ever. Doesn’t matter, if you chose to do, or was forced to. It is now in the past and all you get to do it move on. Lurking about it only delays your scheduled works, your peace of mind and tasks that could afford to be in your list. But when a similar task visits you in the future, confront it with the lesson learned.
- Keep yourself busy prioritizing tasks that are part of your big goal. That way, you will manage your time properly, give it the right importance or priority and will have no time to regret declining anything that is not supporting your big goal.
Now that we reminded ourselves about how to say NO and when to say NO, we should also take a short guilt trip. Wondering Why Now? Just when you got all things cleared off your head? Yeah, that’s how you make phew changes.
You say No, when your mom asks you to do some household chores.
You say No, when your kid wants that extra candy.
You say No, to the alarm that wakes you up every morning.
You say No, to breathe some fresh air skipping the morning run.
You say No, to your journal that was last attended and written a while back
You say No, to that painting brush of yours sleeping on your shelf
You say No, to that book that you have not read since you bought it
So if you can say no to all of these (and a few more I will add whenever I feel like), you sure can say No to things you really should.
So now are you going to say NO, to make phew changes? I really doubt.