Are you writing your New Year’s resolutions this week?
Let me save you time and energy by suggesting that you focus on one resolution in the coming year—Saying No.
Learning to say no is the single most effective way to increase your focus and decrease your stress. Think about all those activities you’re saying yes to that consume resources and leave you feeling depleted.
We have to learn to say no to the things that don’t matter and don’t give us joy so that we can say yes to the things that will make us more productive and happier.
A Story From the Trenches
I never tell my coaching clients to do something that I’m not willing to do, so let me tell you a story about how I recently said no to something that in the past I may have said yes to.
Someone reached out to me and asked me to coach an executive who was failing miserably in his job. The client wasn’t 100 percent sure this guy would make it, so they asked if they could cancel the contract halfway through our engagement if enough progress weren’t being made.
I thought about their request, as this would have been a prestigious company on my client list, and then I said no. I knew working with this guy would take up a lot of my energy, and I wasn’t willing to put my reputation on the line just to make a few bucks.
The following week, I secured a new coaching engagement with a senior leader, who has all the makings of an outstanding executive. The work is exciting, and I’m having a great time watching my client soar.
I now have the capacity to take on additional clients, whereas I probably wouldn’t have been able to had I agreed to the first coaching request.
Here are Ten Ways for Saying No To People Making Demands on Your Time
It’s hard to say no, especially if you’re a people pleaser. Here are some ways to help you get to protect your time.
- I’d love to, but I can’t.
- Sorry, but I simply don’t have any more capacity.
- I’m not the right person for this assignment.
- I’m overscheduled as is.
- I’m unable to take on any new projects right now.
- I’m afraid I can’t make this work.
- I’m flattered that you asked. However, I’m going to have to decline.
- My bandwidth is low, so I won’t be able to make it work.
- I would if I could, but I can’t.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Always Offer an Explanation.
Of course, there will be times, like when your boss asks you to take on more work when you’re already overbooked, that an explanation will be necessary. However, in many situations, no reason is required.
Offering an excuse might seem like the polite way to decline a request, but doing so could backfire.
Here are some examples:
- You decline a request to meet for coffee because you’re unavailable on the day they suggested. You tell them this, and they ask you what day works best for you.
- You tell a co-worker that you cannot help them with a project because you’re working towards a major deadline. They say no problem. They can adjust their deadline to meet your schedule.
- You get one of those “pick your brain” requests from someone in your network who wants to grab an hour of your time. You say you don’t have an hour, and they respond by telling you 30 minutes will do.
Saying no—especially when it’s uncomfortable to do so—is one of the most powerful steps you can take to create the kind of life you wish to lead. Create your boundaries and remember that you’re not responsible for someone else’s reaction.
Your success rides on your ability to say yes to the things that matter most to you, and you won’t be able to do this until you learn to say no.
Download my newest book, Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work, to help you prepare for difficult conversations at work, including the ones where you have to say no. Schedule a call with me to receive my special holiday offer of a FREE month of coaching, when you sign up and pay for coaching services by December 31, 2021.
Here’s to learning to say no and a great New Year!!!