My Top Five Tips For Saying No Gracefully

I recently won an community service award for my volunteer work with women in the local community.

As happy as I am to help out doing what I do, I often find that when people know you are a giver, they sometimes feel that they can take advantage of it.

So there is one obvious solution: say “No”.

If only it were that easy.

For many of us “No” is the hardest word to say, but if we want to regain control of our time, we need to make friends with it.

Get comfortable with this little word and it will provide you with a simple ‘no objection  guarantee’ way to more and better time.

We want to say it, sometimes we need to say it, but somewhere on the voyage between our brains and our mouths, “No” transforms into “Yes”. What’s going on?

Many of us recoil from “No” because we feel that there are more important things at stake than our wasted time.

We fear we might offend someone, look incompetent, disappoint, feel guilty, be refused next time ourselves, or get into an argument.

So how can you say “No” gracefully?

My Top 5 Tips:

  1. No, I can’t do that.” Don’t beat around the bush-put “No” right upfront.
  2. Use non-verbal cues to underscore the “No“-shake your head; use a firm and direct voice, use eye-contact.
  3. Add an explanation if you want, but don’t apologize: “I have another commitment.” – even if that commitment is to yourself!
  4. Be empathetic if the situation calls for it: “I know how hard it is to find a speaker at this time of year.
  5. Recommend an alternative if one is available: “Let me refer you to…

Providing that we do this with skill and sensitivity, saying “No” can win us as many friends as saying yes, and they may well even last longer. Even more essential, it is one of our strongest allies in the battle for time.