The Art of Saying No (Gracefully)

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc.

To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no —an art that many people have problems with.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

lifehack.org

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is.

Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.”

They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

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2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise.

It’s all about knowing your long term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

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3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying NO.

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people.

When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

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4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker.

You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you.

When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it.

However, if you erect a wall or they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

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It's not you, it's me

Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

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