As women, we are the ultimate multi-taskers and multi-pleasers. We want to DO and BE everything for everyone at every time of the day. But how realistic is this?
Why does it seem so difficult to say “no”? Can we really learn to start saying ”no” gracefully and not feel guilty about it?
Well, the answer is YES, we can… and more importantly, we SHOULD.
First, it’s important to understand the underlying reason why we just can’t seem to say “no”, even when we really want to… and probably should.
According to Judith Tingley, M.D., author of “Say What You Mean, Get What You Want: A Business – Person’s Guide to Direct Communication”, the biggest barrier to communicating assertively is FEAR.
If we turn down a request, we fear being judged, criticized intimated or rejected. And this doesn’t just hold true in the workplace with our colleagues – it also happens at home in our intimate relationships.
Of course, as Dr. Tingley clearly points out, we want to be liked, accepted and acknowledged for all that we are and all that we do. But there has to be a point where we get honest with ourselves and with others about our boundaries.
To remain sane, we need to learn to say “no” to others and start saying “yes” to ourselves!
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a wonderfully bright colleague of mine, Colette Carlson. She is a motivational speaker, expert in human behavior and she has MASTERED the art of saying “no” with ease and grace.
By speaking at length with her, and visiting her appropriately named website, “Speak Your Truth”, Colette provided me with the necessary tools to start setting appropriate boundaries.
In order to do this, new habits and behaviors need to be implemented into our daily lives. To help remember these new behaviors and anchor them in our brains, she uses the same words we would use for children crossing the street.
Stop, Look, and Listen… before crossing GO.
Stop: Instead of rushing to make a decision, simply stop and take a deep breath. Give yourself some time to think over the request and remove the pressure to reply immediately. Try the following tips:
- “That sounds interesting, let me get back to you”, or
- “let me check my schedule and I’ll let you know”.
Simple and straightforward, using words like these will buy you a little time to really think about whether or not committing to this request is really the best use of your time.
Look: Take a long hard look at your current commitments and calendar. Put your focus on your highest priorities and schedule them into your calendar first.
You’ll want to be clear about your internal goals, like going to the gym, scheduling a massage or coffee time with your friends.
Listen: Listen to and acknowledge YOUR feelings. Do you truly want to do what is being asked or is it something you feel you “should” do? “Shoulds” come loaded with guilt, but you really need to honor your true feelings for long-term sanity and happiness.
Go: Go across with integrity. Let go of your fears and simply speak your truth. No need to give excuses – just a simple, “no, my calendar is full but thank you for thinking of me” – is sufficient. Then let it go without further discussion or chatter.
Have faith in yourself that you are respecting your own priorities and needs.