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How to say “no” without feeling guilty

September 13, 2020

The opinions of the employees of You are personal.


At the beginning of my career I had a serious problem: that’s what I said “”Yes” to all. It didn’t matter how busy I was, and it wasn’t a problem that I couldn’t foresee a request. Who really wants to help someone move from one side of the city, state, or world to the other? Sometimes I said “yes” regardless of the fact that I took on jobs that were rejected by others.

How to say “no” without feeling guiltyHow to say “no” without feeling guilty

Of course, I wasn’t the only person in the world who couldn’t say no. It’s something that most people have a problem with. After all, you don’t want to offend those you love and you don’t want others to think you are selfish or irresponsible.

After all, I had to do something different. I had my personal priorities and put them aside because I was putting others in front of me all the time. As a result, I felt stressed because I was always running to “catch up”. Finally the spotlight came when I came across this quote from Derek Sivers: “If you don’t say yes! to something, say no. “

And this is still one of my favorite quotes and I use it every time someone asks about my time. I sure still don’t want to get people out of town, but I can help even if I’m not screaming super, yeah! However, I am a little more selective about my “yes” than before. Even in the selection process, although this does not make decisions more convenient. There will always be times when we feel guilty for not helping anyone.
Fortunately, I’ve learned that by doing what I’ve written below, you can say “no” to almost anyone without feeling guilty.

Set your own boundaries and guidelines … early and good

When you say no comfortably and impeccably, you need to think about what you believe in and what you are ready to defend. Why do you say no “, Writes Patti Breitman in her book How to say no without feeling guilty. “When you learn to remove the obligations you don’t want in your life, what are you making room for?

For example, have you turned down a new customer because it would mean wasting time with your family? In this case, your priority is to maintain a work-family balance. Even if the money had been good, since the money wasn’t as important as spending time with those you love, you can justify your decision.

Breitman also suggests that you live by a number of personal principles. This can be given to others without expecting anything in return or having a family tradition like having dinner together on Fridays. These little personal rules “imply that you have thought enough about the subject in the past and learned from previous experience that what a person is asking about is not right.” It also implies that “you have a prior commitment that you cannot break”.

Just say no”

No matter how strange it feels, you need to be clear with your answer. Knocking around the bush is not fair to the other side because they need an answer in time so they can make their plans. If your confusing answer makes them believe you said yes, there is no going back and you are committed to it.

If you can’t get on a project or attend an event, give them an honest answer and a little explanation. If you’ve already set limits and guidelines, this shouldn’t be complicated. You can say, “Sorry, I can’t make it to your party. I have dinner with my family on Fridays. “

But also remember that you don’t owe anyone an apology unless you want to make it happen. “Sorry I can’t” is more than enough.

Offer an alternative

Just because you denied a request doesn’t mean you can’t help them. If they asked for a job, you can refer them to a colleague or other company. When they asked about your readiness for a new assignment, let them know you can’t this week, but that you will be available the next.

Personally, this is one of my favorite techniques. You continue to offer help, but on your own terms. One advantage of this is that if you say no, you won’t feel bad. It’s a win wherever you see it.

Be confident but polite

What if you checked your calendar and found that the month was completely saturated? You can still say no but be professional and diplomatic. Your answer might be something like: “Thank you for contacting me. I really appreciate that, but unfortunately I won’t be available until next month. If you still need help during this time, email me to double-check my schedule. “

Don’t answer right away

You don’t want to keep people waiting, but you don’t have to answer them right away either. Let them know that you need to review your schedule and that you will respond to it as soon as possible. In addition to reviewing your times, you need to analyze whether this meets your limits and guidelines. Sometimes you can do it in minutes, but sometimes you need to give yourself more time to think about it.

Know your worth

The rejection of your worth is, in my opinion, the main reason we say yes more often than we should. We die to have the approval of others. If we say no to them, they can assume that we don’t care or that we don’t know how to use our time. And we don’t want that reputation, especially when we start our business.

But on the other end of the spectrum, if you always say yes, it can benefit others, and as a result you will have too many responsibilities or they will always ask you if you have a minute because they know you aren’t saying no .

While you want to be a person you can trust, you don’t want the needs of others to take precedence over your own. The best way to act is to know what your time is worth and to put more weight on your opinion than on others.

Practice your answers

Yes, practicing may sound silly, but as you surely know, practice makes perfect, and so does our denial. If you have time, practice emailing your answers (without sending them, of course).

Then look at yourself in the mirror and say “No” out loud. This may be uncomfortable, but it is a simple and effective way to prepare yourself to say “no”.

Be more selfish

There are negative associations with the word “selfish”, but remember that often the problem comes from skilled manipulators and you don’t need to adhere to it. At the same time, being a little more selfish can be good because it helps relieve anxiety and stress. Think about it. You skip the gym to go to the bar with your friends, you help others finish their projects before they finish yours, or you skip a doctor’s appointment to go with a client. Over time, your mental and physical health will suffer.

If there is a reason you say “no” a lot, you need to take care of yourself. How can you help others when you are a mess? Self-love is powerful and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Use the broken phone technique

In my experience, most people take no when they clearly explain why you cannot help or meet with them. Unfortunately, some people don’t tolerate rejection. I no longer accept that type of answer, but at the time I did. After my initial decision to do better for myself, the determination to be successful was always there. But they will try to break you until you give in. Until you master the art of taking care of yourself, you will be of little help to others. I keep repeating this: “Do it well for yourself now so that you can do more for others later.”

If you ever find yourself in this situation, repeat the “Sorry I can’t” answer no matter how many times people ask you. Be diplomatic and empathetic, but don’t let yourself be convinced. Their goal is to move you from “no” to “maybe” and then to “yes”.

“Sorry I can’t” is a great answer and the only one you have to give.

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