Many of us will acknowledge that we can often end up doing things we don’t want to do. Bizarre in many ways and of course there are all sorts of reasons why we might do those things, many of them good. Let’s be honest a lot of us hate putting the bins out, taking the dog for a walk doing various tasks at work and lots of other things but we do them from a sense of responsibility, duty or because we care for others.
Some of those things just need doing. But there are all sorts of other things we might end up doing that we don’t want to, from what might either be a misplaced sense of duty, an inability to say no or a fear of offending people. Attending events, we don’t want to, buying things we don’t want, agreeing to help at things – or hundreds of other things we could think of.
But it is never too late to learn so here are a few ways to say no. But first let’s be clear about why we need to.
Why we need to say no
The obvious reason is that life is too short to spend it doing things we don’t enjoy (of course we all have to do some of those things as explained above) but if there are relationships where we frequently find ourselves drawn into things we wouldn’t actively choose then it can be easy to become resentful, which isn’t fair, after all if we are adults we ought to be free to say no.
The other important reason is that for most of us time is short so actually saying no can prevent us from doing things that we would enjoy or that would be good for us in some other way.
- I’d love to but……
Sometimes you might genuinely want to do something, but you have another commitment or just can’t spare the time, at that time. It should be pretty easy to either arrange an alternative time or say that you will do that when you schedule eases up a little. Its not even really a ‘no’ its more of a not now. Be careful though because some people will remember so while you can use this to say no and get out of something you can only do that a few times!
- Sounds good but I need time to think about it
It’s easy to feel rushed into things – a great technique of some salesmen, who will tell you that you need to move quickly, or you’ll miss the chance. We owe it to ourselves not to be rushed. Especially if it is something that will involve an investment of time or money – or even something we just don’t feel too strongly about. It is very reasonable to give yourself time – in fact if you are feeling rushed and you have a sense of disquiet it could be its not right for you anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time and question why if is someone is pressurising you at all.
- It’s just not for me
Sometimes though we just need to be really straight and say an outright ‘no’. There are times when we might need to give a reason but probably fewertimes than we’d think. We need to remind ourselves that we can simply say no without excuses or giving reasons without even explaining why – we can just say no and learning to do that without feeling guilty can be a really liberating thing to do.
It’s not a priority right now
- Then there may be things that you would actually love to say yes to, but the time, effort or money involved don’t fit with your priorities at the time. That is okay, you are entitled to your own priorities so simply explain that although you’ve always said you’d love to ski, do salsa dancing or white-water rafting- it’s just not your top priority at the moment. Of course, it could be something much less adventurous but that is ok too.
What Happens When you Say ‘No’
Like many things in life the art of sayingno gets easier with practice. We need to remind ourselves of a few things, like we can never keep everybody happy and just because someone else thinks we should do something, that doesn’t make it right.
Practice saying no and then remind yourself when you have that you shouldn’t feel guilty.
But remember too that saying o isn’t a reason to be unkind or disrespectful. Saying no often it becomes easier when we have a clear send of our own priorities and clarity about the things that are our responsibility.
If we are clear that saying yes to a particular thing doesn’t mean we are not fulfilling a responsibility that really is ours then there is no need for guilt AND other people reactions to our ‘no’ aren’t our responsibility so even, worst case scenario, they get offended , well that isn’t really our problem. It might cause a few transient difficulties but nothing that shouldn’t be able to be ironed out with respect and explanations.
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