How Saying “No” Can Help You Say “Yes”

Does this sound familiar—Your calendar is full but you do not feel like you’re accomplishing anything.

Every week is a busy week. But every week also feels unproductive.

What’s going on?

Your yes’ may be hurting you. You are getting hit with requests and you are constantly saying “yes.”

Turning down a request is difficult for many. Sometimes, it may be control issue. You want to be involved in anything you can. Sometimes, it may be a fear of disappointing others. You like to be liked.

While saying “yes” may allow you to avoid a moment of awkwardness, the absence of “no,” can lead to a filled calendar, stress, and sense of unproductivity.

It seems counterintuitive, but say “no” can help you say “yes” to that which is most important in your work and life. Here’s how:

  1. “No” creates margin. Saying “no” to requests helps you avoid overscheduling yourself. And it creates the space you need to say “yes” to those things that are most important to you and your work.
  1. “No” can reduce stress. Stress will make you want turn down all requests, including those to which you really should say “yes.”
  1. “No” can reduce unwanted requests. Eventually, those around you will realize that you no longer say “yes” to everything. You are no longer a guarantee task-taker, that it depends on the request. And you can say “yes” to the ones that matter.

So if you struggle to say “no,” here are a few quick tips:

  • Be honest. Don’t hide the reason why you can’t say yes. You explanation doesn’t have to be long, but give a reason.
  • Be polite. Don’t be short or dismissive. Treat them how you want to be treated.
  • Be helpful. Maybe you know someone who can help. Maybe you can point them to a good resource. Though you cannot take on the task, you can still be helpful.

Saying “no” isn’t always easy. But it can give you the margin in your calendar, reduce your stress, and decrease unwanted requests.

“No” can help you say “yes.”

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