say-no

In a culture of yes, saying no is hard to do. The reasons are varied: Sometimes, we want to make a good impression on our coworkers or colleagues, or fear being seen as selfish by family and friends. Learning ways of saying no more, when necessary, will change your life for the better!

Yet, every time we say yes without full conviction, we are prioritizing others’ needs  ahead of our own. In a sense, a half-hearted “yes” to someone (or something) else can also be a “no” to ourselves. Learning to say no, then, can be empowering and lead to a healthier, more relaxed life. Read on for tips on how, why and when to say no.

Here Are Some Ways Of Saying No More Often

1. Less stress from the first no 

Leadership and business expert Michael Hyatt says fewer commitments mean less stress, less feeling overwhelmed and less frustration over not doing everything we want to be doing with our time. It’s important to make space in our schedules for the things that really matter to each of us. If we don’t learn to say no more often, we likely won’t have the time or energy to say yes to the things that we really want to do. 

2. Develop a better relationship with yourself

Sometimes we say yes out of fear of how we’ll be perceived if we say no. But according to a piece from GoodTherapy, learning to set healthy boundaries can have a positive affect on your mental health. Learning to say no can actually help us feel more confident and comfortable. As we say no more often, politely declining invitations get easier with time. When we feel confident enough to graciously say no to people, we gain more control of our lives.

3. Improve your relationships with others

As lifestyle Guru Nandy Z Soulshine puts it, sometimes we say yes to buy time and put off a difficult conversation or decision. That route, however–canceling at the last minute, having the tough talk eventually–creates extra stress for ourselves and others. Saying no effectively is a life skill. It’s much healthier to be reliable and occasionally say no than a person who always says yes, but can’t always deliver on their word.

4. Honor your priorities first

If you feel unsatisfied about what you’re doing with your time and energy, you’re less likely to feel good about the interruptions keeping you from your priorities. Saying no is a powerful way to use your time in the ways that matter to you and, in doing so, honor yourself. This also helps avoid any resentment you might feel toward those asking for your time. Saying no, ultimately, is win-win for you and those around you.

5. Find more satisfaction in your personal and professional lives

A recent Forbes story underscores the point: saying yes only when you truly feel capable enhances your experience of being there for others and taking on extra responsibilities. Taking on too much makes it easy to get overwhelmed, in your personal and professional lives. Saying no when you want or need to will help you avoid overwhelm and ensure that you’re a reliable friend and colleague to the people around you.

6. Prioritize rest and recovery

There’s long been a cultural expectation that we downplay our need for rest and recovery, even as we suffer because of it. Saying no more often acknowledges and respects the need for rest and creates the space for it.  Plus, there are myriad health benefits that come with time and space for rest: two of them, more sleep and less stress, improve greatly when we’re willing to say no to some of the expectations or invitations that pile up. The long-term benefit of saying no is better mental health overall. 

So how do I do it?

As a piece on MindBodyGreen puts it, there are some strategies for learning how and when to say no. Start to build your confidence with it and set a new tone by saying no to little things. The practice will help you establish yourself as someone willing to stand their ground and help you transition to bigger nos. Another tip: don’t give elaborate excuses when you say no. It gives people an opening to potentially sway you. As the saying goes, no is a full sentence. 

Do you tend to say yes to things that you might be better off refusing? Sometimes, we say yes to make a good impression or avoid being seen as selfish. In almost every case, we say yes unnecessarily because we’re putting the priorities of others above our own. Here are six ways that learning to say no can empower you and lead to a healthier, more relaxed life, plus some tips on how and when to say no.

Sometimes we say yes to buy time, putting off a difficult conversation only to inevitably have it later (i.e., canceling at the last minute) and creating extra stress for ourselves and others. Saying no effectively will help change this habit.

You can build your confidence and set the tone by saying no to little things at first. It’ll help you establish yourself as someone willing to stand their ground and help you transition into bigger nos.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When was the last time you told someone no? What happened and how did you feel about it?
  2. Can you think of a time when you said yes to something you didn’t want to do and ended up regretting it?

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