“Um, NO, I think not, well, maybe not, um, OK, not right now, that is of course….unless you really need me to.”
How good are you at saying “No?”
The word “no” is truly a hard word to remember and to use effectively. Need more control over your time and your day? There are so many time management tools out there including prioritized lists, calendars, daytimers, Franklin Covey Timers, Outlook, etc. etc.…all in an attempt to get more done every day.
Yet sometimes, you can free things up considerably by just saying the magic word, “No.”
Consider this quote by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of England: “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
Where do you draw your boundaries?
Boundaries can disappear in our lives for several reasons:
1. I can’t possibly say no to _______________. There are certain people or situations in our lives that are especially difficult to say no to. It could be your boss, your parents, your children, your friends.
2. You may have people around you who are skilled at getting you to do what they want you to. They don’t mean any harm…they just want to take up your time with their needs and requests and know exactly which of your buttons to push.
3. You want to please people.
4. You feel validated or needed through requests of your time.
5. You would feel so guilty (similar to number 1) if you said no.
6. You think it’s a part of your job to never say no.
7. As Tony Blair stated above…it’s just easier to say yes and let your boundaries be crossed than to say no and deal with the fallout from that…negative reactions from others or yourself.
If you recognized yourself in any of these statements, then your boundaries may need a little tune-up to understand where they are and how to effectively protect them.
Many times you don’t even realize your boundaries are being crossed, but a sure-fire indication is if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or resenting what you’re doing, or both.
I served on the board of directors for a non-profit. It was a gratifying yet very time-consuming commitment. I was finally forced, with commitments around growing my coaching business to bow out and resign. A few months later, I was asked if I could help with something. I had already said I was done, but they were asking me so persuasively. It took a lot of conviction, but I said I was so sorry and no. Then a few weeks later, I received a beautifully engraved crystal bowl as a thank you for my years of service, with a note asking for my help. This was a huge test. They really needed me!
One of the things I did was to stop and think before I said yes. I realized that there were other capable board members who could step up to the plate as well. It was so difficult, and guilt provoking, but yet again, I had to say no.
I was saying no to protect the prioritization in my work and life. But it takes effort to determine, ahead of time, what is most important in your life. An examination of boundaries can begin there…by prioritizing where and how you want to spend your precious time, guilt-free.
Saying no can mean overcoming guilt. It’s about really examining what your motives are, and deciding the best option for yourself at this time. Saying no means building up security within you that says “I don’t need this acknowledgment; I can do this for myself.” Saying no takes practice, but like all things, it helps to reconsider your goals and priorities before launching into the yes.
If saying no is just too difficult, try this response I once learned from a very wise woman, “My answer is no at this time but if I can, I’ll get back to you.”
What do you need to say NO to, today? How can you constructively look at keeping your boundaries and making informed decisions on what to take on?
Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a certified Career/Executive Coach. She coaches individuals and leaders to career fulfillment, transition, and advancement. She also consults for results with businesses and solopreneurs. Her background includes 12 years in senior leadership for a Fortune 100 corporation and 7 years as a coach, with a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Executive Coaching.
For more information, please visit my website at www.upcoached.com