Saying “No” in 6 Easy Steps

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.

It is very easy to say yes.”

Tony Blair

Sometimes we have a hard time telling others “No.” Unfortunately, leaving it unsaid can become very costly for you. You lose time to do the things you really want, or need, to do. And you may even feel resentful towards the other person and yourself.

Telling others that you can’t acquiesce to their every request doesn’t have to be difficult. If you struggle with the concept, here are a few ideas you can put into use today.

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1. Explain. Explain that your other commitments are taking up all of your available time right now. Everyone gets overly busy at times. The other person should understand that you have a heavy load of other responsibilities. It might help to go into a little detail about all of the other things you have going on. This should increase their level of comprehension.

2. Delay. Say that you are in the middle of something and that you will get back to them in short order. It’s not uncommon to get hit with requests for immediate help. You can let them know that you can’t help right now but that you might be able to help soon. If it really is urgent, they will just have to find someone else and shouldn’t feel resentful towards you.

3. Consider it. Tell them that you will think about it. This is of course more of a “maybe” than an absolute “no.” Avoid using this option if what you really want to say is ”no.” Take the time you need to consider it and remember to get back to them. You can suggest your own deadline or an alternative that works for better for you if you are not able to fully comply with their initial request.

4. Know what you want and need. If someone is trying to sell something to you, tell them that what they are offering doesn’t meet your needs but that you will get back to them if your needs change. This puts an end to the matter quickly without the other person feeling insulted. After all, you are rejecting their product or their service, and not them personally.

5. Suggest an alternative. Tell them that so-and-so would be a better help. In this case, you are not refusing to help them. In fact, you are helping them more by suggesting someone who is more capable of satisfying their needs than you are.

6. But… Tell them that you’d like to help, but…. This lets the other party know that you like their offer or would like to provide assistance to them, but you that you are either too busy or their offer doesn’t quite meet your current needs. It’s similar to #1 and #4, but is more supportive and encouraging.

If you learn to say “no” to the things that you really don’t want to do, don’t have the time to do, or don’t fit your needs, your life will be much richer for it. Like many other things in life, this gets easier with practice. After you get used to it, you will be amazed at how easy it is and how receptive others can be.

Remember to only tell the truth. One of these options is bound to be true for you. There is absolutely no reason to feel like you need to be dishonest.

Now go tell some people “no” and see how much better you feel!


photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4536149424/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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