Overwhelmed? 5 Easy Ways To Say No

Unless you are a toddler or a teenager, saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your boss piling your desk with tedious projects or your kids wanting you to host a last minute sleepover.  There are times you say yes when you want to say no.

If you actually look forward to hours of overtime or loud tweeners playing all night video games, sounds like you are all set.

But, If you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no, try these 5 easy ways.

Decline with grace. I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this time. Maybe another time?

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work better.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered a taxi? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you know anyone who lives by you?

Stall. If you aren’t sure of what to do, buy yourself time. I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the apology nothing more than a simple,

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah.

18969144739_e872b4904a_mPeople don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to find someone to help solve their problem. And this time, that person is not going to be you.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.   Plus think of how your friend would feel if he found out you said yes even though your heart wasn’t in it.

A word to the wise on saying no; Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding new adventure.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say

sorry, I can’t help this time.


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I've been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 1991. My most memorable patient was Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin Coroner from the Wizard of Oz. I now practice in Addiction Medicine and recently published Hepatitis C Quick Start: A guide for the clinician.

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