How to say NO without saying no.

GaitherWe have all done this before, put too much on our plate by honoring too many requests for our time. I know I have. Perhaps you have as well. It’s because we want to be helpful and we hate to say no to anyone who asks for our help. This particular trait is a major contributing factor to burnout.

Yet, we find it just so hard to say no. So, against our better judgment, we say yes to whatever the request may be and regret it immediately. We know we are already stretched too thin. We don’t have time for one more thing.

But, there they go, right out of our mouth before we know what happened. Before we considered all of the ramifications. Three little letters that constitute another division of our time and energy, the word YES. It is just too hard for some of us to say no.

Remember, when you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. So, we pile on ever more, neglecting other important aspects of our lives. In the process, we neglect our own needs over the needs of others.

Noble, yes. Sustainable, no. I found that I could not properly care for myself while attempting to care for everyone around me. The fact is, if we don’t care for our selves properly, we can’t properly care for anyone else.

So, what is a workable solution for someone who has either great difficulty or perhaps finds it impossible to say no? The answer is, don’t say the word no. Say something else that means the same thing. In other words, learn to say no without saying no.

Here are 10 examples of things to say in place of no:

  1. I don’t feel I’m qualified to handle that request. I believe some one else would be better suited for that job.
  2. I am so covered up right now. Perhaps you could check back with me at some later date when things aren’t so hectic for me.
  3. This isn’t my area of expertise but I might be able to suggest someone who can handle this for you.
  4. I have too many other commitments I must honor at this time.
  5. Unfortunately, this is not a good time for me to honor your request.
  6. Thank you for thinking of me but I am already quite overextended.
  7. I am nose-to-the-grindstone on several projects right now and just not able to take on another one.
  8. You know, life is like a buffet. We go down the line and put items on our plate until the plate is full. My plate is soooo full right now.
  9. Haha. If I had a clone I still wouldn’t be able to manage anything else.
  10. I was just thinking of asking for your help on a big project I’m laboring over. Looks like we both need to keep looking!

With a little forethought, having a few lines like these at the ready will allow you to gracefully bow out from any requests that might leave you overcommitted. If you have great difficulty saying no, this is a skill you need to develop.

Is this something you have struggled with? What ways have you found to say no without saying no?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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