If you have kids in school or are involved in church or somewhere else in your community, then you might be inundated with requests to volunteer or help out in some way. There are lots of important jobs that need to get done and helping is a noble cause. Sometimes it seems like the same people volunteer all the time and are helping out every chance they get. Good for them! I am grateful for people like this as they are often the reason things happen and get done. But I have also come to realize that not everyone is gifted in the same way and not everyone is in the same season of life. Learning How to Say No is a vital skill that will save you countless stress and free you of built of resentment. Best of all it will free you up to say yes to what matters!
Why we can’t say no
I used to feel really guilty every time I said no to a request. As a result, I would say yes to everything. Not even because I necessarily was called to help, but because I couldn’t say no. I hated disappointing people and would take on tasks not because I truly wanted to, but because I felt too guilty not to help. Then when I realized that I had taken on too much, I would often end up feeling bitter and resentful.
With age comes wisdom however, and in my case a new career. Since I started this blog, I have had less time to give to great causes. The little free time I have is now very valuable and that has made me have to say no. I still say yes to things, but not out of obligation. I chose the things I say yes to carefully, and make sure not to create an overwhelming schedule for myself.
Another reason people often say yes when they should be saying no is that they are surprised by the request. Imagine if you had just dropped the kids off at school, are running late for an appointment and you get stopped by a mom asking for your help with the latest fundraiser. You have other things on your mind and if you are anything like me, you will say yes just because you are rushed and have not had time to think things through and get more information. It is okay to say “I’ll need to think about that,” and get more information at a later time about the commitment and expectations involved. Don’t feel pressured to answer every request right away.
How to say no
1. Be clear and direct. I would often say “maybe” or some version of that thinking I was letting people down easy, but since I wasn’t being clear they would keep asking and keep pushing. It sounds simple in theory but the easiest way to say no to something is to just say no.
2. No explanations necessary. Remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation. You may give them some details as to why you are unable to accommodate their request, but a simple “Sorry, I’m not going to be able to do that,” will suffice.
3. Don’t worry about what others will think or say. Sometimes we find it hard to say no because we are concerned that others will think we are selfish, lazy or don’t care about whatever cause needs help. But just as you don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life, they don’t know what is going on in yours. You have to come to a point where you don’t care how the no is perceived. For me this got easier after I turned 40. The older I get, the less time I have to try and please everyone.