One of the most consistent challenges my clients face is that they struggle with saying no. Eh-hem... Could you be a people-pleaser?
There are so many reasons that women feel uncomfortable saying no. Reasons like not wanting to disappoint the other person (guilt), wanting to avoid conflict because saying no can feel aggressive, fear that the person they are saying no to will stop liking/loving them, etc. However, saying yes under these circumstances typically means that you are placing more value on the needs of others than on your own. Ummm… That’s not cool…
So, what do you do when saying yes means sacrificing your needs for the sake of others? How do you say no with confidence? Notice that I did not ask, “How can we get comfortable with saying yes when we want to say no?”. No, sis. That is not what we are working on. Today, I’m giving you 3 tips for saying no with confidence so that you can feel comfortable saying no... And a little bonus: so that you can feel good about saying YES to yourself!
3 Tips for saying no with confidence:
- As Nike says, “Just do it”. Nope, I’m not easing you in gently. Being direct is my jam, so I had to start with this one. BUT I know that so many of us (People Pleasers I am talking to you my friends) have a hard time with this one so here is what I suggest if you just want to rip the bandaid right off.
- Respond ASAP. The inclination is typically to give a “maybe”. But let’s be real; we know that “maybe” is code for “I don’t want to but I don’t feel comfortable saying no”. So you probably respond with something like this: “Oh, that sounds fun! Let me see what I have on my calendar and I’ll get back to you.”; “That’s a good idea, let me think about it and get back to you.”; “Maybe, I’ll let you know!” Do these sound familiar? What happens when we do this, is that we avoid saying no for too long. Then we commit to a yes, because there isn’t a “good enough” reason to say no. The courage you need to say no won’t automatically develop later, so just bite the bullet and say no.
- Be polite but honest. This is where really understanding what your priorities are, comes in handy. It’s okay to tell the person why you are saying no. I’m not saying you have to offer a reason, but it’s better than offering a little white lie because you don’t think your actual reason is reason enough. (I see you people-pleasers ) Here’s an example, “No, I’m not available for dinner because that would mean I can’t have dinner with my kiddos and husband. Because of our current schedule, that’s the only time I have to see them during the day and that’s important for me.”
- Be firm. When you say no to something, you are also saying yes to something. You have made a commitment to yourself. That’s the most important commitment. So stand strong in that conviction.
- Get clear on your boundaries. When you have a clear understanding of what it is you are sacrificing to say yes, it makes it that much easier to say no. So, take some time to make a list of what your non-negotiables are. Put pen to paper! These non-negotiables will serve as your north star. They will help you feel confident in saying no to things that go against them. AND they will help you create a reality that you feel fulfilled in.
- Take a beat. When you say no, it’s okay to take a moment to develop a response that is ironclad. Picture this: Your bestie is having a girls' night out but you’d rather spend the evening on the couch, binging Brigerton on Netflix, and eating ice cream. But you don’t want her to think you’re mad at her! Or maybe you don’t want her to get mad at you for not going. Either way, here is a way to give an unquestionable no without alienating someone. “No, I’m not available, but I can’t wait to hear all about it!” You just can’t argue with that and you’re being nice about it.
Saying no isn’t always going to be easy, but it doesn’t always have to be hard. When those challenging times bubble up, you have the tools to ease that anxiety that comes with answering no. And if you need a little extra nudge, a little extra permission, just remember that saying no means saying YES to you. Your needs matter. You deserve a yes. Plus... confidence looks good on you 😉