Tips for saying “no” with more ease
“No, I can’t right now.”
“No, I’m not interested.”
“No, that doesn’t work for me.”
Saying “no” has never been easy for me. To this very day my “people pleasing, don’t want to piss anyone off,” alter ego and her sidekick FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) appear every time I need or want to say “no”.
I’ll admit, while I’ve come a long way (and I mean a long way) I still have some work to do before I’ll consider myself a master at saying “no”. But there’s great hope.
Most recently I saw the light at the end of the proverbial “no” tunnel. And that light leads to a road where saying “no” comes with no guilt, stomach knots, or the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Sound good? Keep reading.
THE ROAD TO MASTERY
I was once told that the Universe puts in front of us what we have yet to master. Once we have gained mastery that lesson is finished, no longer to be seen again.
I was reminded of this during a coaching call with a client. This client had no issues saying “no”. After years of practice they found something that worked. Something that gave the mastery nod to the Universe, letting the Big U know that they figured it out.
I was in awe of their mastery and how easy they made it sound. (Not to mention a tad envious.) No guilt. No fuss. No muss. No hurt feelings. No FOMO, just the ability to say “no” with confidence.
I listened with ears like a sponge. Soaking up every tidbit of information until it all made perfect sense. As the road to mastery began to unfold this is what I came away with…
The first step on the road to mastering the art of saying “no” is discerning the “want to” versus “obligation” factor of any situation. And the very best way to do that is to ask some questions. For example;
Am I saying “yes” to this because I feel I have to?
Do I really want to say “no”?
Is this something I really want to do, but can’t do at this time?
If it’s a “want to” but the timing is off there are ways to say “no” without closing the door. This is the next step, creatively saying “no” with alternatives.
“I’m sorry I’m not available to do that on the 21st, but I do have space in my calendar the following week.”
“I’d love to help with the newsletter. I can write some content, but I can’t do the formatting. Have you checked with Jim? He’s great at formatting.”
“The party sounds like fun, but unfortunately I’m already booked for that night. I’d love to attend the next party, so please keep me in mind.”
FOMO AND ALTERNATIVE REJECTION
What if alternatives don’t work for the other party and there’s no room for compromise? What if Sidekick FOMO comes out to play?
OK, this part I’ve got mastered and here’s my secret weapon for dealing with FOMO, as well as the alternative rejection.
I remind myself that there’s no such thing as rejection. I remind myself that rejection is just the Universe’s way of protecting my time and energy from something that’s not a good fit. So by creatively saying “no” I’ve created the space and the time for something that’s a better fit. I’ve also let it be known that I’m open to the possibilities, but at a time and under circumstances that work for all parties involved.
You know what? Something better always comes along.
WHAT ABOUT THE OBLIGATION FACTOR?
This is where the rubber truly meets the road; feeling like we SHOULD say “yes”. “Should” is a great indicator that we’re feeling obligated to do something. Saying “yes” out of obligation leads to hurt feelings, resentment, lack of time, frustration, half-assed efforts, etc.
Any time I’ve said “yes” out of obligation I’m left dealing with the resentment that comes as result… resentment towards the situation, towards the person asking, towards myself for not saying “no”. It’s ugly and unfair to all parties involved. I know I’d really hate it if someone said “yes” to me not because they wanted to, but because they felt they had to.
This is where the other step comes in; the step of less is more.
Saying “no” without explaining it away.
I know from past experience when I’ve explained my reasoning for saying “no”, I’ve usually managed to dig myself into a hole, making myself sound guilty of doing something wrong. I’ve discounted my good reasons and the other person by saying too much. It’s not the actual “no” that creates the issue; it’s the feeling of having to explain myself...that's the real issue.
Going forward on this road to mastery, I’m taking a page from my client’s book and I’m going to offer a “Thanks for asking, but I’m sorry I can’t.” Even as I typed that there was a sense of relief with no sidekicks, guilt, or fear rearing their heads.
So to recap the road to mastering the art of saying “no”…
Step 1: Discerning “want tos” from obligation
Step 2: Offering alternatives
Step 3: Less is more
Here’s to saying “no” with a bit more ease. Until next time, I’m sending you all lots of love and light from my open heart to yours.
And please don’t forget, I’m here and I’m listening.
About this blog
This is the place where I share my personal journey, insights, ideas, and a-ha moments helping me to mute my own inner critic. It is my hope you find what you need to mute your own.