We live in a “yes” culture, where we are constantly expected to take on more responsibilities, more work, and continue to attempt to climb to the top. But with limited resources (time, energy, mental capacity for more load), saying yes to everything is not an option. So we need to learn to say no. But are you used to saying no? Let’s focus on learning to say no! Read on for tips on how to say no at work and at home as well as how to say no to family and friends.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
? Stephen Covey
Why we have a hard time Saying No
There are quite a few reasons why we always want to say yes. It’s something we’re conditioned to do, right? To be responsible, helpful, useful people at work and at home, we do what we are told or asked to do. If you’re thinking “when I say no I feel guilty” then you’re not alone! But what other reasons keep us from saying no?
- Guilt – we actually feel bad for not wanting to/being able to/being willing to help.
- Rejection – if we stop saying yes, so will others to us, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
- Confrontation – we really don’t want our boss or significant other to get pissed at us for not wanting to do something.
- Opportunity loss – if we say no, we don’t get to do that thing, and whatever the next thing that leads to. Could it cost us? FOMO and all that.
- Genuinely want to help – I mean, we’re good people. We really do want to help and if someone asks for our support, it kind of makes us feel good and wanted, right?
These are all valid reasons for our “yes culture” but that doesn’t mean it has to be this way 100% of the time. This is why learning to say no is so vital for our to-do lists and mental load!
Why is it important to learn how to say no in a yes culture?
Reasons for Saying No
Here are a bunch of reasons for you to learn how to say no without feeling guilty!
Saying no puts you in control of your career.
While saying no to your boss or co-workers seems scary and wrong, it can actually help show your commitment to the quality of your work. By saying no to some things, and expressing that you don’t want to sacrifice quality and optimal performance on your other projects, you’re showing that you can accurately maintain your workload and you are dedicated to producing good results.
Saying “no” shows you are not afraid to make decisions that are better for your clients and therefore your job. It also shows you are not a pushover who just wants to please everyone even when it isn’t possible.
Also, saying no helps us build the courage to ask for what we do want. When turning down something that isn’t a good fit, we can then clarify what project would be more exciting and more in line with our career goals.
Saying no demonstrates that you value yourself.
Saying no is a way of respecting and valuing your time and space. We can’t be everything and everywhere at the same time, so we need to carefully select where we put our efforts. Or we risk being stretched too thin.
When your gut tells you something isn’t right for your energy or time, respect your energy. What better way to practice mindfulness as a busy mom?
You can’t please everyone.
When we allow ourselves to become stretched too thin, we’re no good to anyone. We can’t help ourselves, our loved ones, or perform well at work. Valuing our energy and time should be a high priority! we’re not responsible for other people’s reactions of us and we’re truly responsible for only a few people’s happiness.
Saying no can sometimes make us feel left out, that is true. But remember we need to be selective with how we fill our schedule or we may end up not enjoying anything and being in a lousy mood during events that are important to us. Yes, you can learn how to say no at work without feeling guilty!
Learn how to say no without feeling guilty as a busy working mom.
Saying “no” gracefully
When people expect things of us, we always want to please. But we’ve discussed that it isn’t possible to do all the things and so we need to learn to gracefully say no to some things and some people. We want to learn how to say no without hurting someone feelings.
Here are some simple examples of a gentle and respectful way of saying no:
- I have other priorities currently and cannot commit to this project. Why don’t you ask X?
- Let me think about it first and get back to you.
- I’m in the middle of something right now, let’s chat at X time instead.
- I bet X would love to help you with this, but I’m not the right person for the task.
- I’m swamped right now with this project, but I can help you next week, would that work?
- I’m already committed to X, it’s a shame I can’t help with Y right now.
- I’d love to help with X, but that means I won’t be able to get Y done by the deadline. Which would you like me to prioritize?
- That’s so sweet of you to ask, but we already have plans that day.
- Unfortunately, my availability is limited and I will not be able to participate in X. Thank you so much for thinking of me.
“No” might not be a word you are used to saying often, but if you find yourself stretched far beyond what you can handle, or even reaching that limit, then saying no is a must. Next time you feel a “yes” coming on when your whole heart is screaming “no,” honor that and set your limits. By leaving more space for yourself to focus on what you have already said “yes” to, you will be able to bring your best.
Learning to say no at work and how to say no to family is a huge help for us moms!
How to say no book suggestions:
This post is part of the 31 Tips for Working Moms series. See the rest of the posts here: