Saying No

Could you take care of my boa constrictor while I’m on vacation? No.

Would it be all right if I bring my eight cousins to your dinner party? No.

Saying no isn’t always that easy. We all used to be good at it. Every toddler excels at saying no! Yet as adults we often find ourselves saying yes when we really want to say no. It’s like we’re on automatic ‘yes’ — especially when a friend, colleague or family member is asking us.

Duke Robinson, author of Too Nice for Your Own Good calls it “the disease to please.” “You do yourself and the person making the request a disservice by saying yes all the time,” he notes.
Over committing your time invites frustration and stress. Saying no hasn’t always been easy for me. But I’ve learned that being clear about how I want to use my time is the key to responding honestly. Sounds simple. Yet many of us never take time to establish our own priorities.

If you have trouble saying no, start with something small. Ask for a day to think about a request. Anticipate something you’ve done routinely and say, “I won’t be able to do that this year.” Better yet, identify your priorities and use them as your guide.

CHALLENGE: Identify one activity that no longer fits how you want to spend your time. Consider whether you want to say no to the activity completely or simply adjust the frequency. Then communicate a straightforward no. I’d love to have you share your own tips, trials on my blog http://cornerstonecoaching.net/my-blog/.

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Jenni Proctor

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