Let’s say you are invited to attend a webinar, online networking or social event after hours; you could say:
1. ‘Thank you so much for the invitation and for thinking of me.’
2. ‘Unfortunately, this is my family time, or I have made another commitment already’.
3. ‘Please think of me for the next one as I would love to support you.’
Another way to think about saying no is to separate the decision from the relationship.
Peter Bregman spoke about this concept in his book, Four Seconds. He often said we confuse the decision with the relationship to that person. We feel that denying the request is the same as denying the person, and it isn’t. First, decide objectively how you want to proceed and then find the compassion and courage to communicate your no.
In this way, the person doesn’t feel hurt or offended, and you have left space for them to approach you again without feeling attacked.
4. Protect Your Downtime.
“The oldest, shortest words — ‘yes’ and ‘no’ — are those which require the most thought.” Pythagoras
Saying no is not just about protecting your weekday calendar but setting boundaries on your recovery time too. When you are requested to attend a family lunch or an online game of trivia, ask yourself these questions before you reply:
· Am I saying no out of fear or guilt? If so, it is probably a no.
· Does this energise me or drain me?
· What am I giving up by saying yes?
· Does this excite me?
The ultimate question to ask yourself comes from author Derek Sivers:
“Is this a “HELL YEAH!” or a no?
When you decide what to do, anything that doesn’t wholly excite you should automatically default to a no.
“When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!” We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out”.
Don’t fall into the trap of giving away a yes because your calendar is empty at the time of the request. How many times have you agreed to attend an event because you figured you have nothing on, so you may as well. But fast forward to the date in question, and you are cursing yourself you agreed to it.
5. Create A Mental Buffer.
“Sometimes no is the kindest word.” Vironika Tugaleva
If saying yes to requests rolls off your tongue a bit too easily at the moment, then have this default line ready:
Let me check my calendar, and I’ll get back to you.
It gives you some breathing room to pause and check your priorities and capacity. Once you have decided what will work for you, get back to them with the time frames that work within your diary.
6. Have A Burning Yes.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically — to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.” Stephen Covey
The more clarity you have on your priorities, the easier it will be to say no. When you can recognise what matters most to you, it shines a light on what you need to ignore. Make time to write out your long term and short term goals across all areas of your life.
The purpose of knowing your goals is to be appropriate in the moment. It provides direction on how you should behave when faced with options on how to spend your time. Use it as your compass to ensure you are saying yes to the things that matter.