By Bunmi Sofola
Keep it simple: Resist the urge to over explain. Simple
responses such as “Sorry,
I can’t this time.” “I’m afraid I’m busy that day” are most
effective. The more details you offer, the more there will be
to argue about. The other person may try to change your
mind or decide that your excuse isn’t good enough. (“You
mean cleaning your closets is more important than I am?”)
When in doubt buy time; there’s no law saying you must
always answer at that moment. Say a co-worker ask you to
head up the fund raising drive for a company-sponsored
charity. Tell her, “let me think about it, and I’ll get back to
Then consider the best way to say no.
Expand your definition of, “I have plans.” Many people feel
they can’t turn down an invitation unless they have another
engagement on the calendar. But if you’ve scheduled some
“ me” time for yourself, that is an engagement. So, don’t be
afraid to say” sorry, I have plan” .
Make it a policy: Make your ‘no’ sound less personal by
referring to a rule you have about the thing being asked.
For example; “sorry, but I have a policy about never lending
my car.” Or “I make it a rule never to date people I work
with,” such a response carries fewer stings because it says
‘no’ to a practice, not to an individual.
Remember that, behind every no is a yes: you’re not sure
you want to work 11-hour days or baby-sit your neighbour’s
kids. But do you know what you want to do instead? Every
time you say no to a less than-appealing request, you say
yes to something else.
Maybe it’s one golden hour to take a bubble bath, read a
good book or play with your kids. Saying no frees you to
pursue a dream—to take a class and develop your potential,
or to work for a cause you believe in. The more time you
can give to the things you truly care about, the more
satisfying your life will feel.
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