How to learn to say no: step by step instructions

But you are used to lending your shoulder without refusals. You are tired, hoping that the bosses will appreciate your zeal, rewarding with a salary increase and a career takeoff, and everyone else will be sincerely grateful or at least delighted.

The bosses have no time to notice your work, especially if you, without further ado, pick up everything that falls on you – the work is done, and it is good. Colleagues are usually sceptical about other people’s workaholism or happily relieve themselves by handing over some of the tasks to you.

Speaking of life outside the office, helping friends and family is sacred, but they may corny not imagine your download and each time demand more and more, believing that it really will not be difficult for you. This is how you answer them, adding the usual: “Yes, of course!”.

Meanwhile, tasks and requests are pouring in on you like a cornucopia – by phone, mail, messenger, or in person. And, probably, you already understood: to slow down the pace of growing stress, it’s time to learn to say “no,” although thoughts are obsessively spinning in your head: “What if it will ruin the relationship?”, “What if it disappoints the boss?”. Nothing like that will happen. If you feel that you are bogged down in excessive obligations, urgently master the art of refusals.

Below is a selection of essential steps in the art of saying no: seven rules and three tactics for advanced cases.

1. Value your time

Clearly define your workload and professionalism – this will make it easier to understand how much your time is worth, at work and not only. When someone wants to puzzle you with a new thing, try it on mentally in your daily schedule and if it takes more than two minutes to think about it, give it up. You are already loaded to capacity – so explain the situation.

2. Set priorities

Even if you have free time – on rare weekends or weekdays in the evenings – this is not a reason to give it to everyone who does not want to cope without help. Are you ready to trade the long-awaited vacation with your beloved or family for what you are asked for?

3. Practice

Saying no as often as you can is a great way to get a handle on rejection. Sometimes repeating this magic word is the only way to discourage highly persistent people. Stand your ground; in the end, they will understand that you are not joking.

4. Don’t apologize

A common mistake is to start a refusal with the words “Sorry, but …” because you hope that sounds polite. Perhaps it’s just not worth the trouble to crush this apologetic tone – you will not even notice how quickly you will be persuaded to agree. You must be firm and definite, defending your time; there is nothing to apologize for.

5. Stop being nice

It is dangerous to be polite, and to be good for everyone is fraught with a decrease in self-esteem – to the point of completely nullifying personal interests. The easier it is for people to grab your time (“Oh, she is so cute, she will always help!”), The more willing they will be to do it. But if they find that you’ve set a hard barrier against overkind leaks, they’ll switch to easier targets.

6.Say no to your boss

This is not true; this does not mean that you have entirely unbelted, defending your micro-freedom. Firstly, this was not in the contract. Second, by placing too many obligations on you, management risks the quality of your work. If they want to add tasks to you, let them determine when you will solve those that have already been. Simultaneously and for the same salary – no, th anks.

7. Take care of the backlash

Sometimes it is easier to anticipate an impending task than to give it up. If you know that they are planning to contact you with a request, it makes sense to take the initiative into your own hands and announce (at a meeting or lunch): “Guys, just so you know, this week is fully staffed for me, I can’t find even an hour.”…

Tactics to help


Simple language to help mitigate rejection — for those who have a hard time getting a firm “no.”

“I’ll be back with an answer”

Instead of hacking from the shoulder, the person who appears with the request can be told that you will think a little and give an answer – not necessarily positive.

“Let’s discuss later”

Another “soft” option that works when you want to leave the question open – in the rare case if you change your mind.

“This is not for me”

It sounds like evaluating a photo in Tinder, but it works for all occasions: You can sincerely praise an idea, a project, a person and say that it just isn’t right for you, at least for now.

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