Ask America’s ultimate experts
Feel like you never have time for you? If you find yourself hopping from one obligation to another without rest, it’s time to say “no.” Here’s how!
Let go of guilt Recruit a cheerleader “Struggling with the word ‘no’ actually shows that you care about other people’s feelings,” assures life coach Cheryl Richardson. “But that doesn’t mean you should give away your time and energy.” Her fix: Call a friend to get permission! “Hearing from someone you trust that it’s okay not to do something makes it so much easier,” she notes. “Before you know it, you’ll gain confidence and internalize your own ‘pep talk.’ ”
Start a goal journal
“Write down the goals you want to accomplish over the next three months,” says selfesteem expert S. Renee Smith. “Maybe you’d like to change jobs or spend more time with family. Now jot down what’s stopping you. Is there an activity on your calendar that you agreed to even though it conflicts with a networking event you wanted to attend? A project you felt obligated to help with although it takes time away from loved ones? The key to an abundant life is saying no to the things that don’t drive what you do want to say yes to.”
Imagine Wonder Woman
Surprise: Picturing the person you want to say no to as a caped hero can help you tap into your strength! “We tend to believe that if we decline what someone is asking, they’re going to be crushed,” says psychologist Aziz Gazipura. “But simply thinking of them as the highest version of themselves, like a superwoman, reminds us they’re perfectly capable and will be just fine, so we can stop feeling like we’re letting them down.”
Speak up Practice micro no’s
Assertiveness is a skill that needs to be developed, says Gazipura. “So this week, find two opportunities to stand up for your needs,” he advises. “Start low stakes, like telling a waiter that you don’t want more bread. Then graduate to something a bit bigger, such as letting your friend know that you can’t watch her cats.” If saying the actual word is too hard, try something like: I can’t commit to that, but I’ ll get back to you, recommends Smith. “It prevents you from feeling like you’re on the spot and gives you time to think.”
Ditch the sorry sandwich
That’s squeezing your no between an apology and an alternative favor, as in: I’m sorry that I can’t attend your party, but I can help you set up. “It dilutes your message, and you should never apologize unless you feel you’ve actually done something wrong,” says Gazipura. Simply lead with gratitude: Thank you so much for the invite, but I can’t attend. It makes you feel good and lets the person know she’s valued.
Defuse difficult people
Run into someone who has trouble taking no for an answer? “Just respond with what’s called a ‘process comment’,” says Gazipura. “That is, summarize what’s happening: I’ve said no, and I notice it’s been difficult for you to accept,
but I’ d like to stop now. It curbs confrontations because you’re simply stating the facts and not making it personal. You’d be surprised how effective this can be at creating a more positive dynamic between you.”