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!

Woman's World - - Contents -

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.”

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