Just Say ‘No’

Source: American Pop Culture

Source: American Pop Culture

Mia Maalouf, Columnist and General Assignment Reporter

Do you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to the petitions of others, knowing that you already have multiple other commitments and not enough time? Or maybe even sensing an oncoming request and choosing to offer your support in advance, despite your busy schedule? These occurrences may be common for you because you haven’t yet mastered the art of saying ‘no’. But why is it so difficult to say no in the first place?

In general, the word ‘no’ has a negative connotation. On the receiving end, ‘no’ is associated with rejection and embarrassment and therefore, its use is often avoided. But saying ‘no’ also affects the individual brave enough to put themselves first. It makes them feel guilty and selfish, sentiments that are heavy burdens. While saying ‘yes’ avoids these negative emotions, it does have harmful long term effects, including resentment towards those who constantly seek help as well as additional stress that can lead to burning out. 

The most important thing to remember is that saying ‘no’ politely does not make you rude or inconsiderate. In fact, it can help you get the respect of those around you who may struggle with saying ‘no’ themselves. There are a couple important tips to keep in mind in order to successfully and politely reject a proposal.  

1) Do not offer an excuse

Although hiding behind an excuse may make a rejection seem more polite, it gives people an opening to ask follow-up questions or try to find another time that may better suit. This will make it even more difficult for you to say no a second time, especially when someone is adamant for your support. Avoid having to put yourself through two rejections by simply thanking someone for the offer and highlighting how you can’t commit to it at the moment. 

2) Postpone your answer 

It may seem wise to ‘rip off the bandaid’ and say ‘no’ on the spot, but postponing a response can give you more time to think about the proposal and how to articulate a rejection. By offering to check your schedule or asking for more details, you can make sure that you are willing to commit and if you aren’t, it will give you the chance to plan your ‘no’. 

3) Graciously decline 

Saying ‘no’ doesn’t immediately translate to being heartless or insensitive. By expressing your gratitude for the opportunity or congratulating someone on their initiative, you’ll ensure that they aren’t upset and will leave them with a good feeling despite the ‘rejection’. 

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway). It’s not just the act of saying ‘no’ that is difficult to endure as the feelings that arise after the ‘rejection’ are what people are truly trying to avoid. This coming year, challenge yourself to be okay with saying ‘no’ and putting yourself first to see what goals you can accomplish.