ABC TV - The View from the Bay - San Francisco - "NO School"
Say no without being negative. Discover how to relieve the pressure of being everything to everyone.
Time to go to "No School!"
Advice from Michelle DeAngelis
Are you like most people and have a hard time saying "no" to the many requests you get every day? Learn how to have "no" not be negative! Stop saying "yes" when you really mean "no" - that creates a Gap, and the Gap is where life sucks. The Gap is the difference between what you think and what you actually do. Saying "no" is different from being negative. Negative responses usually involve sarcasm or an insulting remark.
A well-delivered "no" is neutral at worst, if not downright polite. Negative sucks. "No" does not.
Steps you can take to say "No":
1. Change your default from yes to no. Anytime someone asks you to do something that you don't want to do or simply cannot fit into your schedule, have your first, immediate answer be no. Right now, your default answer to most requests is probably yes. Change your default. Rehearse. Gird for being begged. Let all pleas fall on deaf ears. Do not budge. No means no. Make sure your body language matches your words. No wiggling.
2. Imagine you have said yes and how that feels. If you feel yourself starting to weaken, instantly play the movie in your mind of the negative impact of saying yes. This allows you to stop putting others' needs ahead of your own. The negative movie will remind you of how annoying it is to ignore your own needs and strengthen your backbone for sticking with the no. Oh, there I am looking miserable at that event when I could be home in the hammock, reading a book with my daughter. I think not.
3. Prepare and practice your "no." You've said no, soften it with a sincere thank-you for being asked or considered, but make damn sure you don't soften your boundary. Your response is not "No, unless you keep asking me," or "No, but I feel really bad about it." It's just "Thank you, it's an honor to be asked. No."
4. Don't say "maybe." Unless you truly want to do it and need time to find a way before you can say yes, say no. "Maybe" just means unfinished business and you'll have to deal with it again later. "Maybe" usually sucks.
Here's an option for the über-pleasers among you, but it must be used cautiously and must not water down the "no" that you already stated. Offer to do an alternative favor, a less time-consuming thing you can do to help (like sending five e-mails rather than joining the committee), or suggest someone else for the task. This shows that you care and can sometimes ease the sting of having just said no. (You did say no, right?)