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How to Say No?

by Mahwish Mustafa

In our everyday lives, we frequently feel overburdened by innumerable demands, duties, and commitments. Saying no is a crucial ability that enables us to uphold healthy boundaries, give our health first priority, and build a more happy and balanced existence.

Many times, we find ourselves saying "Sure", when people ask us to do something. However, a few days later, we become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tasks on our to-do list. It's important to recognise that we are the ones who agreed to these obligations in the first place, and it's this self-imposed burden that leads to frustration.

It can be challenging to express our refusal without feeling guilty or offending others. In this blog, we will explore the art of saying no and provide valuable insights to help you navigate this skill with grace and confidence.

“Yes” and “No” - The difference

The words "yes" and "no" are frequently used in comparison, giving the impression that they hold equal significance in conversations. However, in reality, they differ not only in meaning but also in the level of commitment they entail.

When you say no, you are simply declining one option. On the other hand, when you say yes, you are simultaneously rejecting all other possibilities.

A quote by economist Tim Harford captures this well: "Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with that time." By committing to something, you have already predetermined how that future chunk of time will be utilised.

In essence, saying no allows you to save time for the future, while saying yes comes at the cost of future time. Saying no is like having a time credit, as it grants you the freedom to spend your future time as you please. Conversely, saying yes is akin to incurring a time debt, which you will eventually have to repay.

Learning to say no is a valuable skill regardless of your career stage because it protects your most precious resource: time. Failing to guard your time allows others to take it away from you, as emphasised by investor Pedro Sorrentino.

To achieve your goals, you must say no to anything that doesn't align with them and reject distractions. By broadening the definition of saying no, it becomes the ultimate productivity hack, as it helps you eliminate distractions and focus on what truly matters.

Motivating Points for yourself:

Know your Worth: Recognise that your time, energy, and personal boundaries are valuable. Saying no is not a sign of selfishness but an act of self-care and self-respect. When you acknowledge your worth, you empower yourself to make choices that align with your values and goals.

Assess your Capacity: Before accepting new commitments, take a moment to assess your current workload and responsibilities. Be realistic about what you can handle without sacrificing your well-being. Remember, it's better to do fewer things well than to overextend yourself and become overwhelmed.

Be Direct and Honest: When declining a request, it's essential to be straightforward and honest. Clearly communicate your decision without unnecessary apologies or justifications. Saying no with confidence and sincerity will help others understand and respect your boundaries.

Practice Assertiveness: Assertiveness is key when saying no. Maintain a confident and respectful tone, and avoid appearing wishy-washy or uncertain. Remember that you have the right to say no and prioritise your well-being. Practice assertiveness techniques to strengthen your communication skills.

Embrace Discomfort: Saying no may feel uncomfortable initially, especially if you're accustomed to people-pleasing. Embrace the discomfort as a sign of personal growth. Over time, it will become easier to assert your boundaries and prioritise your needs without guilt or anxiety.

Celebrate your Freedom: By saying no, you're creating space for what truly matters to you. Celebrate the newfound freedom to focus on activities, relationships, and projects that align with your passions and goals. Embrace the positive impact of setting boundaries on your overall well-being.

While it may be challenging to remember these for every decision, periodically revisiting this exercise is valuable. Saying no can be difficult, but it is often easier than dealing with the consequences of over-commitment proving to be a powerful tool for reclaiming control of your time, energy, and life. As writer Mike Dariano points out, "It's easier to avoid commitments than to get out of commitments." Saying no keeps you on the easier end of this spectrum.

Saying no just as in health, “Prevention is more effective than seeking a cure” when it comes to productivity.

Check out SimplifyNote for more such blogs.

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