Have you ever said yes to something you really didn’t want to do? I have.

I’ve said yes for several reasons. I didn’t want to disappoint the other person, so I said yes. Sometimes, I’ve felt so darn guilty that I caved in. At other times, I felt put on the spot and pushed in a corner.

More times than not, I’ve regretted when I agreed to do something that I didn’t want to do.

Then there were the times when I did have the courage to say no, but my response was so abrupt that it came off a little rude. Have you ever experienced that?

Women, especially, seem to have a difficult time saying no. We sometimes agree because saying yes seems like the nice thing to do. However, if we continue to say yes rather than no, we’ll never have the time to complete the things in our own lives that really matter. If you are honest, most of the time the person making the request is the person who should be doing it. Or, there is someone else that could very well do it besides you. Saying yes to the good things keeps us from accomplishing great things. What have you neglected to do for yourself because you chose to say yes to someone else?

This month I shared communicate with POWER strategies with One Degree Shift. One member talked about her biggest communication challenge. See if you can relate to it.

My biggest communication challenge might actually be saying NO. I want to improve on this so I can say no, and say it before I am upset or feeling used and abused.”

When the answer must be no, you can follow three easy steps to say so. Your response will let the other person down in a clear way without sounding mean and provide an alternative solution. In fact, you never have to say the word no at all. Now, that’s a nice thing to do!

  1. Woo-Woo-Woo! I swiped this phrase from the character, Sinclaire James, on the sitcom Living Single. When one of the other characters was feeling disappointed or sad about something, Sinclaire consoled with her loving words, “Woo-Woo-Woo.” It means I acknowledge you. I support you. I’m on your side. In other words, it’s compassion. Before you refuse a request, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. First, see it from their point of view. Relate and identify with their situation and feelings. As Stephen R. Covey wrote in the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When others feel you have truly listened to them and understand their position, they are more likely to listen to your position. It may sound something like this: “I understand your urgency.” or “I can see how important this is to you?” or “I appreciate that you trust me to do this for you.”
  2. Tell the TAYSI (Truth As You See It). Next, it’s your turn to explain your point of view. Think about your own time and commitments. Ask yourself, “Does this new request fit in or not?” Be honest. Share your situation and feelings with the other person – your feelings are just as valid. Say something like, “The situation is…” or “I’m already committed to something else.” It is important not to spend a lot of time explaining your position, because a long, drawn-out explanation sounds like an excuse. Also, if you go on too long, you may begin to sound hesitant or unsure and the other person may think you will change your mind with a little persuading. No is a complete sentence. You have to right to say no without an explanation.
  3. Reveal the C-I-A. In the first two steps, you politely said no to the other person’s request. They will likely be disappointed, so expect some venting. Don’t take it personal. You would be disappointed too if the shoe was on the other foot. Just because you feel guilty, that is no reason to change your mind. If you say no and then turn around afterwards and say yes, you teach the other person how to manipulate you to get what they want. Besides, you can support the person without taking on their request. Give them a Choice, an Idea, or an Alternative instead. This step turns your “No” into a “Not now” or a “Have you considered this.” The person will appreciate your willingness to help. You might say something like, “I’d be happy to assist you at another time” or “This is what I can do. Will that work?” or “Here’s an idea.” or “Have you considered asking Jane Doe, she is a wiz at that.” This way, you are providing options and supporting them forward, which will put the other person back in the driver’s seat.

Remember, you have the right to say no and not feel guilty. So, don’t apologize. Be nice, but be direct. Is there a request that you agreed to and now you regret? Use this three step formula to say “No” or “No more,” and, instead, say “Yes” to something you’ve been putting off for yourself.

Do you have a hard time saying NO? Does saying yes to things that are not important crowd out time for the really important things in your life? How do you get around the guilt of saying NO? Leave a comment or share your advice.

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