Permission to Say No

Tips for Graciously Declining

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“Some people can’t say no. They enroll in too many courses, hold down too many jobs, volunteer for too many tasks, make too many appointments, serve on too many committees, have too many friends. They are trying to be all things to all people all at once all by themselves.” — Dr. J. Grant Howard

You now have permission to say no!

You can learn to say a gracious, but firm “no” to:

· cell phones

· making homemade cookies for the Halloween carnival

· the computer

· attending a birthday party for your nephew

· answering the phone every time it rings

· your kid’s request to play sports every night of the week

· anything that takes away from your family time

· working on your Sabbath rest day

· heading the committee that only you are perfect for

· being on the committee that you’ve always been on

This is just the beginning of the list of things you should practice saying no to from time to time. Are these things bad? No. But can you see how learning to say no would help you create some much needed margin in your life for your most important things — the best things?

For many people, learning to say no to “good things” is a very radical thought. “It seems so…well…rude, doesn’t it?”

Try this:

“Mrs. Smith, I won’t be able to bake 6 dozen cookies for Johnny’s class carnival booth, but I can bring a couple of packages of store bought cookies.”

“Gee, Sue, I’m very flattered that you thought of me to head that committee, but I will not be able to do it this year. I’m sure you understand.”

Tell your business team or coworkers — “I don’t take work calls on Sunday, but I’ll look forward to hearing from you on Monday.”

Or how about turning off your phone during your evening family time?

Now, that wasn’t so hard was it?

If you believe it’s time to get radical about managing your stress (and if you are reading this, I bet you do), then I suggest you try this assignment for one entire week:

Say no to every single offer or request that comes your way.

There might be something you really want to do…say “no” anyway. You can always go back later to say “yes,” but for one whole week do the difficult thing and say “No, thank you.”

If people refuse to take no for an answer, don’t give in. Simply say “No, thanks. I feel honored that you would ask me, but at this time I have to decline.” You don’t have to give an excuse or a reason. If a friend keeps pressing you, just say “I’m busy with other things right now. I’m sure you understand. Thanks for asking.” No matter how the other person responds, just keep repeating your “no” statement in a kind, consistent and neutral tone of voice.

For some of you, thinking of doing this may cause you to break out in hives! Trust me — you will soon realize that a life will go on even when you say “no” to some perfectly good things. It will get easier and easier to do. You’ll learn how to start differentiating between the things that you truly want to do (because they are the BEST things) and the things that you’ve been doing in the past out of a sense of obligation.

Learning to say a guilt-free “no” is a skill that will reap big rewards and give you your life back!

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