Making an important decision comes down to saying yes or no.

When you say yes to something, you say no to something else and the other way around. Too often, we say yes when we really want to say no. That’s because saying no is often seen as selfish and impolite. For that reason, it can be very attractive to say yes when you really want to say no. Saying no is scary. But it’s your life. You can’t let these feelings control you.

So what’s the fix?

Learning when you should say no and how to say it respectfully. But first, let’s see why saying no is so important.

The ABC of saying no

Why is saying no important?

Saying no is important to protect your time, space and mental health.

While it’s tempting to accept any decent opportunity or friendly invitation, saying yes to all of those can soon get overwhelming. 

Moreover, most people are bad at estimating how much free time they have. Filling up your entire calendar is never a good idea. Could you benefit by saying no more often?

This will add some buffer in case something goes wrong. And it’ll leave room for much better opportunities or mental space to reflect, rest and recover. 

When you say no more often, you have more time for yourself. You can use this to work on positive habits that will get you much further in life than that thing you don’t really want to go to but feel bad about missing. 

Say no more often to protect yourself from burnout and create room for better opportunities or personal development.

When to say no?

Some decisions are straightforward, such as declining a call from your ex at 4 am. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to decide between yes and no.

Here are three tips to help you decide:

  1. It’s either hell yes, or no. In other words, if you’re not fully convinced, say no.
  2. Think about the future impact of your decision. How will you feel about it or remember it 10 days/weeks/months/years from now?
  3. Remember the opportunity cost of saying yes. Every time you say yes to something, you automatically say no to something else, whether you realise it or not. 

If saying no makes more sense for your mental health, there is no room for doubt. 

How to say no? 

Even when you start to realise the importance of saying no, it remains a difficult task. We can be concerned about sounding offensive, letting someone down, or hurting someone’s feelings.

Again, we have three tips to help you say no respectfully.

  1. Always be confident and assertive when you say no. Avoid confusion and half-open doors. People prefer decision-makers, not wishy-washy excuses.
  2. Be honest. You don’t always need to give a reason when you say no, but if you give one, it better not be a lie or excuse. 
  3. Take your time to make a decision if you need it, but don’t wait any longer than necessary to give your final answer.

Saying no isn’t a drama if you are polite and respectful. Be honest and don’t make people wait. 

Ready to stand your ground?

By now, you should understand why it’s important to say no, what should influence your decision and how to reject someone respectfully. 

We’d like to add that you should never feel bad about saying no. If you don’t take care of yourself first, it is impossible to be the best version of yourself for the people who matter in your life. 

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