How to Say No Gracefully

Last month, we talked about the need for healthy boundaries so we don't get overwhelmed by all our responsibilities.  I pray you were able to create and enforce some healthy boundaries for yourself so you could enjoy the summer sun and all the fun that comes with it.

It's mid-September now and we are already back to school here in Florida as I'm sure you are too. Along with the school year and the upcoming holidays (Christmas is only 3 months away!) it is SO important to use wisdom when choosing what to get involved with and how to use your time.

One of the hardest things my coaching clients deal with is saying "no" to others.  While the fall and winter can be wonderful, joyous times, they can also be filled to overflowing with extra things to do, places to go and people to see.  Sometimes, we realize when it is all over that we didn't enjoy it at all because we were too busy running around doing too many things.

Saying no is a must if we are to be in control of our calendars, our time and our enjoyment.  Saying no is a type of art form to some. Many people, especially women, struggle with that teeny, tiny word--"no."  So today, we are going to practice several ways to say "no" and mean it so that we can say "yes" to the things God has for us.

There are many ways to say "no" when someone asks something of your time and energy.  Here are a few:

  • "I'd love to help you with that, but I am involved in a number of things already.  I'll be sure to let you know if my calendar changes."
  • "Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I already have too much on my plate right now."
  • "I'll have to pass right now, but thanks so much for thinking of me!"
  • "I'm sorry you're in a tough spot.  Unfortunately, I'm not available at that time/date to help out."
  • "If I take this on too, I'm afraid I won't have the time to get that other task done you asked for.  Which one would you like me to focus on?"
  • "Unfortunately, I am not the best person for that job.  I haven't done that in years and am way out of practice."
  • "How nice of you to ask me to do this! While I am honored, I'm not able to give this task the time and attention it deserves, so I will have to pass."
  • And then there's always "No thank you." 

Remember, you are not obligated to help someone out in a pinch.  Their problem does not automatically become your problem--unless you allow it to.

Practice saying "no."  Stand in front of a mirror and practice different ways to say "no."  I know it sounds silly, but when you become more comfortable with the words, you'll be able to use them when needed.  

And we can agree that it can be uncomfortable to tell others "no" when they are looking for help.  But a few minutes of uncomfortableness is much better than hours or weeks of being involved in something you wish you had said "no" to and the resentment that grows as a result.

Remember, without healthy boundaries you are constantly at the mercies of others. You spend your time and energy doing what others want you to do instead of what you want to do or what God has for you to do.  Is this what you want for yourself?
 I'd love to hear how you say "no."  Please reply with one of your approaches to saying "no."  We can all benefit from the lessons and wisdom of each other.

If I can help you create and enforce your personal boundaries, please contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you!