No is the hardest word to say…..

No is the hardest word to say…..

In my 30’s my motto was “say yes to everything until you have to say no”. Worked a treat until it didn’t.

But it’s a hard habit to crack the old YES. As someone who is a recovering people pleaser and eternally curious- my natural place is an enthusiastic YES.


No is indeed the hardest word to say, but it can be easier to say it nicely. Here’s 10 ways I have found to sharpen your pencil and concentrate on what really needs your time and attention:


1|Determine what matters to you – If it’s not a “Hell Yes,” it’s a “No.” Knowing your priorities will make it so much easier to decline invitations or requests.


2|Be flattered – When someone asks for your help, it’s a sign of trust. Earning the status of a go-to person is something you have worked hard for. Thank them for thinking of you, but remember that saying “thank you” doesn’t mean saying “yes.”


3|Say “no” to the request, not the person – Politely decline the offer while acknowledging the person who has asked you and complimenting them for their good taste and awesome initiative.


4|Provide a reason – Having a reason for saying “no” can be helpful, but don’t stress over the specifics. Be honest about why you’re declining, you don’t need to furnish this with a long back story and endless detail- its ok to say that you are too busy or prioritising something else.


5|Stand your ground – If the person is pushy, push back! It’s okay to be firm while remaining polite. Or use humour and call out the situation for what it is can be super helpful when the person doesn’t want to take no as your answer.


6|Practice – Start with low-risk situations and work your way up. Try saying “no” to yourself in the mirror, then to your dog, your kids and the waiter before turning down that unpaid speaking spot at a conference or the fundraising coordinator on the local P&C.


7|Be proactive – If someone repeatedly asks for your help, get in-front of the issue and let them know you’re trying to simplify your life. Having had a pre-emptive conversation makes it much easier to clearly decline future requests.


8|Prepare yourself for FOMO – Saying “no” by definition means missing out on an opportunity, but it also means you have more time and space to say “yes” to what’s important to you. Keep your eye on the prize.


9|Be brave – If you’re used to saying “yes,” it can be difficult to switch to saying “no.” Remember that it takes courage to prioritize your life, needs and values.


10|If all else fails, find a “NO-buddy” – rope your friend or colleague in to hold you accountable for the commitments you make. Agree to BCC your NO-buddy on every email you respond to “yes” on. Soon enough the shame of saying yes will be greater than your fear of saying no.


Life is too short to spend time doing things that don’t give you joy or fill the coffers. There is a time in your life where you need to open yourself up to all the opportunities….and then there is a time of your life where you just need to get some shit done and then go home and have a glass of wine with the people who really matter.


WorkLife Founder Kate Dezarnaulds | Linkedin

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