This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission to help keep my blog up and running, but it won't cost you a penny more). For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.
As women, we’re preconditioned to say yes.
We’re taught to help people, to please people, to give of ourselves.
We say yes to make everything work in our lives, convinced that they won’t be done right if we delegate.
We say yes because people express a need and we jump in to fill it.
Your best friend calls, sounding frazzled. “Could you make your homemade lemon cake for Saturday’s bunco game? Everyone loves it! I know it’s my turn to host, but I just haven’t had any time to get anything done this week!”
“I really need your help to finish my project because it’s due tomorrow.” A coworker reaches out, clearly worried. “Could you stay after work and help me out? It should only take an hour or two.”
When your friend calls, she doesn’t stop to find out that you’ve been putting in overtime on a work project and that your husband is down with a cold and kept you up half the night with his coughing.
Her only focus is on how she needs to take pressure off herself and you’re the solution.
So, despite everything, you’ll push through and go to the store late to buy the ingredients and bake the cake.
Your coworker is clearly struggling to stay afloat. She’s overwhelmed and she reaches out to you as a lifeline. It’s not the first time you’ve had to bail her out because she has poor time management skills.
You stay and, with your help, the work is completed in an hour of overtime you can’t claim without revealing her inefficiency. You arrive home to find your children are already in bed and you have no energy left for what you’d planned for your evening.
Yet, time and time again, we fall into the trap of “being nice” to people and end up resentful, late, or in the grocery store after a long work day.
By saying yes, we have no time left for the true priorities in our lives. Our loved ones, ourselves and our dreams.
By being the “nice” one and always saying yes to people who ask for favors, we are making the choice NOT to say yes to the things that bring us joy.
We’re left with no time for ourselves because we’ve given it all away.
After a few times of this happening, you understandably start to feel irritated and resentful of the people who take you for granted.
Why do people take you for granted?
Because you’ve established a pattern of being the go-to when they’re in trouble.
Your bunco friend could have picked up a bakery cake, or been the one in the grocery store late to pick up ingredients.
Your coworker could have addressed her bad habits and applied herself to finishing her work on time.
But you made it possible for them to continue doing this like this because you enabled their helplessness and came to the rescue.
If you want to be successful, especially as you work towards your own dreams, you have to learn to say no.
By saying no to others, you are saying yes to yourself.
You’re not being selfish, you’re being intentional about your life and your time.
You can say yes and give of yourself, but only after you make sure that your own needs aren’t being shoved to the side.
When you’re respectful of yourself and the things that are important to you, you can give 100% positive energy to the projects you do say yes to.
You have to learn to value your time, because no one else will.
Let’s face it.
No matter how uncomfortable it might make you at first, when other people are consistently managing their time poorly and then expecting you to bail them out, you have to be the one to put a stop to it.
Whether you say it out loud or in your head, repeat the words “Your poor planning is not my responsibility.” Then enforce it by saying no.
No, I will not stay after work to help you.
Yes, I will leave right on time and come home to work on my project while dinner is cooking.
No, I will not bake, frost and decorate a cake on Saturday morning.
Yes, I will watch my daughter’s soccer practice in the morning and read a new book about relocating in the afternoon.
No, I will not join another book club.
Yes, I will spend that night watching my favorite show with my family and feel no guilt whatsoever.
Does that seem difficult? Or rude?
Remember that you don’t have to please everyone.
Boundaries exist to protect you from demands that take you from what’s important to you.
Saying no takes practice
RELATED: The Pity Party Is Over!
Practice with these non-confrontational phrases:
- I’m afraid I can’t.
- I’m going to have to pass on that.
- Not today, thanks.
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I have too much on my plate right now.
- I won’t be able to do that.
- I’ll have to get back to you. (Use this if the situation is really uncomfortable. By giving yourself time to “check your schedule,” you can choose the method of response later. Like leaving an email saying “I’ve checked my schedule and I won’t be able to do it.”)
- Maybe another time. (Only use this if you are actually interested in doing whatever it is another time.)
- I’d rather not, thanks.
- Thank you for thinking of me, but it’s not going to be possible.
- Unfortunately, I’m not able to help you today. Good luck!
- Don’t discount the simple smile and shake of the head as you hurry away.
It’s best not to keep going on with an explanation. When you’re trying to justify your answer, it gives people an opening to talk you out of it.
Some people don’t respect boundaries and they know that if they ask again, you’re more likely to do what they ask.
Don’t be afraid to politely, but even more firmly, say no a second time.
Is the other person still continuing to press you? Smile and walk away. You’ve already given your answer so end the entire conversation.
You can practice saying no when you get those annoying telemarketing calls.
Use any of the practice sayings above or improvise. Smile while you do it and imagine that the caller is a persistently annoying friend or coworker who regularly places demands on your time.
Don’t say you’re sorry.
You don’t need to apologize for being unavailable, but there’s another reason to keep it short and simple and not say “I’m sorry.”
Saying I’m sorry implies that if the conditions could be changed, you’d do it.
If you say “I’m sorry, but I have a doctor’s appointment then.”
A persistent person will change the conditions. “Oh, that’s ok. It can wait till you get back.”
Saying no at work
Can you say no to your boss?
If deadlines are looming and your boss hands you 16 things to do, an impossible task by the end of the day, ask him what his priorities are.
“Since it’s not possible to complete all these today, which are your highest priority and which can wait till tomorrow? I want to be sure to give you the most time-sensitive items before the end of the day.”
Your boss will appreciate your making sure his priorities are taken care of.
Embrace your right to choose yourself by saying no
Stop being so nice!
OK, let’s rephrase that.
Stop being that nice pushover.
Nice people can set boundaries. Successful people set them all day long.
Saying no to some things doesn’t make you a bad guy. It makes you a person who knows how to say yes to the things that matter most.
You have the right, and even the responsibility, to say no when requests are going to cost you more than you are willing to pay.
What will you say “No” to today? Share in the comments below and please share this post to your social media!
You know that big dream? That (fill-in-the-blank) you want to accomplish? The dream that you turn to on bad days and that you can’t let go of?
It’s never going to happen (mic drop).
I’m NOT telling you to throw away your dream because you’re not good enough to make it happen.
NOT AT ALL!
But I AM telling you that your dream will always stay just that – a dream.
UNLESS you take action.
UNLESS you decide to stop admiring the problem, pull up your big girl pants and make it happen.
I can’t do it for you.
But I CAN help you do it for yourself.
Isn’t it about time that you create the life you’ve been dreaming about? You need a PLAN, a step by step roadmap to take you where you want to go.
Are you ready?