I recently said ‘no’ to an opportunity because I had to face another opportunity that was more important to me in the long term, and I needed my resources- time, money, effort for this second opportunity.
‘No’ is very important word. It emphasises the power of choice that we have as human beings. Without realising it, we say ‘no’ to different things, requests and opportunities all the time. We don’t have to utter the word to say it. Most times, it is said in our minds.
Saying ‘no’ is not always easy, but in the interest of our sanity and our very lives, we have to learn how to say it.
If you don’t learn how to say ‘no’ (sometimes to yourself), you may quickly find yourself overextended with lots and lots of regrets and misplaced priorities. You may find yourself reneging on promises and commitments you made and damaging your own credibility. None of these places is a good place to be.
Usually, when you find yourself tired and overwhelmed, it’s because you chose to believe that you can be all things to all people all the time and achieve everything at the same. Well, I have news for you. You’re not Superman or Superwoman. You have a fixed amount of time, possibly a certain amount of money, and only so much energy. Do not spread your resources too thin.
Here are a few tips to help you learn the art of saying ‘no’.
- When you have to make a decision, do not allow yourself to be cajoled, bullied or pressed into giving an immediate answer. However, if you have prepared for the decision, it’s a different story and you can go for it. Otherwise, ask for a fair period of time to decide. You need to be in a place where you do not feel pressured.
- When you do decide to say ‘no’, realise that you’re actually saying ‘yes’ to something else. This would help you to see just what you’re choosing. That way you can be firm in your decision. For example, if someone asks you to help them with a project, try to figure out what you would be giving up if you spent more time on their project.
- Prepare to upset the other person. I wish I could tell you that everyone would take your no with a big smile, but that’s not true. Usually, people tend to see a ‘no’ as a rejection of their person, not of their idea or offer. So, it’s possible that they might be upset. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do about that. Help people when you can, but it’s better to be wise. You can make it easier for them by suggesting other alternatives, but don’t feel bound to these alternatives, except you want to be.
Saying ‘no’ is an art. Learn to do it right, and you will have more peace of mind and body.