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The subtle art of saying no. Here’s 5 ways of doing it guilt-free

No. It’s just a two-letter-word, but it can be incredibly hard to use. If you’re a pleaser, chances are that this sounds ‘vaguely’ familiar to you. We get it, you don’t want to disappoint anyone by telling them no. But this could mean you’re probably exhausted by now, trying to please everyone around you. Setting boundaries, saying no and standing up for yourself. Those can be scary things, especially in the workplace. But once you get the hang of it, ‘no’ can be such a powerful word.

It’s important to set your limitations, become self-aware and make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. We’re so used to saying yes to everything, we don’t even know how to rightfully say no anymore. High time to start handing out more ‘no’s.’ Without the guilt, the self-blame or the doubt, pretty please. 

Self-care isn’t selfish

First of all: self-care isn’t selfish. You have to take good care of yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. And sure, we’ve all been there. Saying yes to another task while your work is already piling up. Why? Well, it’s just hard to sell no to your manager or favourite co-worker. Moreover, you don’t want to disappoint anyone because it’s scary. What will they say or think? Well, this shouldn’t be your motivator. Take care of yourself first, everything else is secondary (remember those oxygen masks in the airplane?). Think about your self-care, the next time someone tries to squeeze a yes out of you when this should definitely be a ‘no.’

Don’t throw ‘yes’s’ around like confetti

The yes-word isn’t party confetti you should sprinkle around freely. Saying yes to everything and everyone doesn’t make you more lovable or respected. It also doesn’t define who you are. People might be disappointed in the act of you saying no, but not in you as a person. Remember, saying yes to someone, means saying no to yourself. Sounds pretty silly when you put it like that, right?

 Everyone needs boundaries, so do you

‘The people who get upset with you when setting boundaries are the ones benefitting from them’ is a well-known quote. But the thing is, everyone needs boundaries. Without them, we would all become overworked and taken advantage of. So, don’t be afraid to set your own, and don’t cross them. It’s what they’re for.

Stop being everyone’s office bestie

Of course, everyone wants to be liked. But you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend or cheerleader. It’s simply not your job. Moreover, it’s a draining and unnecessary task to move heaven and earth to get everyone to like you. It’s perfectly healthy to disagree and address it. Discussion and disagreement in the workplace are what makes a team work and keeps it on its toes. Just don’t go to war or let your emotions get the best of you. Stay professional, respect your co-worker’s opinion and keep in mind that it’s not about winning. It’s about resolving an issue.

Take a moment and fight the fear

You might experience some resistance in the beginning when you try to say ‘no’ more often. This is because people are not used to you rejecting them. But don’t let that stop you from setting your own limits or let anger or fear overrule you and trick you into saying yes. You’ll probably feel the urge to fix the current situation – as someone in front of you is directly asking for your help. Here’s how to deal: take a little pause before you speak. Let the emotions rush through your body, if you feel like you’re getting upset or angry. This way you won’t express them verbally. After a short pause, speak your mind and stay committed.

Kill it with kindness but don’t apologise

Don’t get overenthusiastic and take it too far. If someone requests your help and you respond with a harsh ‘no’ without any reasonable explanation, it might provoke the recipient. Try to cushion it with a compliment, but never say you’re sorry. You’re not doing anything wrong. Per example: ‘thank you for this opportunity, but I’m afraid I have to decline for now.’ You don’t have to over-explain yourself, but make sure you won’t be brusque – that could send the wrong message. And, as with almost everything, practice makes perfect. So, let’s start using it more often. When you end up in a difficult situation where you want to say no, but the words aren’t coming out of your mouth – you can always say: let me think about it, I’ll get back to you.’ This way you can buy yourself some time and say no after all. Practice makes perfect, go try it out and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s time to make life more about you.

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