Find Comfortable Ways to Say No

Katie Corbett holds the book "Do It Scared"

By Katie Corbett

Knowing I have the tendency to put the desires of others over my own as a people-pleaser has helped me evaluate the people in my life. I have learned to prioritize those in my life who respect me when I say no, encourage me to stand up for myself and let me know when I might be taken advantage of or am compromising my values.

In “Do It Scared”, the author, Ruth Soukup, talks about finding ways to say no. Here are some ways I have found helpful:

• Say no in writing so you have time to word your message just right.
• Ask the person to follow up with you at a later time if you feel more time will help you decide.
• Recommend someone else for the job or opportunity.
• Remember to thank the person for taking the time to ask you.
• Script your reply so you can repeat it if necessary, and speak with confidence.

Learning to say no takes practice. Recently, I was being recruited pretty heavily for a multi-level marketing company. I asked some friends about it to see if they had heard of it and made the decision that I wasn’t interested. (I don’t find anything wrong with multi-level marketing companies; they’re just not a good fit for where I’m at in my life right now.) I emailed my contact and let her know that I would not be signing up. I was nervous at first, but after I said a firm no, the decision was made and I didn’t have to think about it again.

I’m not sure what the future will hold in terms of opportunities. I do know that when great opportunities come around, I’ll have the space in my life to make the most of them since I won’t be in the midst of an opportunity that isn’t right for me.

What do you find helpful in terms of establishing boundaries and saying no? I’d love to learn, so drop it in the comments on this post.

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How Learning to Say No Helped Me Make Time for the Things that Matter

Banner Photo

By Katie Corbett

Everything in your life takes up room, even if that isn’t physical space. Things, people and ideas can take up emotional space as well as time. If this is a positive, no problem. Negative situations in your life, however, can fill space that could be occupied by something better.

Author Rachel Hollis, in “Girl, Wash Your Face,” advises looking at your life and making sure you only leave room for things you want to be there. I took her advice and made room for a great new friendship. Here’s what happened.

I have a friend from college who is fun to hang out with. We have a lot in common and enjoy many of the same activities. This friend, however, is flexible to the point of being stressful to schedule with; details are vague or keep changing. This person has opinions about where and when we get together, but it takes a while to pin down a plan. This was fine when we were in college since we lived minutes from each other and had more time freedom. Now, however, this is not the case. After one particularly stressful planning session, I said “Screw it,” and cancelled—which I hate doing. I decided I wouldn’t get together with this person unless we had a date, time and place firmly established. I discovered that reliability is important to me and I want all my relationships to be with people who display that quality. I took a break from this friendship for a couple weeks

In the meantime, I started getting together with one of my husband’s friends. This friend loves the outdoors and I had been hoping to find someone with whom to do things like hiking, canoeing and birding. This friend is also reliable and tries her best to be on time.

My other friend texted me and asked to hang out. It took about an hour—I’m not kidding—but we were able to pin down a date, time and place. I had to stand firm and say no to a few ideas that would have made things complicated, and ask many questions to elicit this person’s preferences. In the end, though, we got together at the specified hour and had a nice time.

By letting go of the need to be flexible–and the stress that comes with it–I made room for someone fun to have a more prominent place in my life. And I didn’t have to completely let go of my other friendship to do it; I let go of my need to please others beyond the point to where it’s good for me. I’m relieved I had this realization and can enjoy both relationships stress-free.

I encourage you to take a look at your own life and prioritize the things, ideas and people in it. What kinds of space do they take up? Is there something else you want that you don’t have room for currently? Saying no, even if it’s just to yourself, can be scary. If you stick with it and remain true to yourself and what you want, it will be worth it.

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Simplify Life: Say “No”

By Katie Corbett

Like many, I enjoy being helpful. There comes a point, however, when my helpfulness to others isn’t helpful to me. I get to a point where I feel like I’m doing things because I feel obligated. I have learned that it is better to simplify my life in order to make the most impact.

As Matthew Kelly suggests in “Perfectly Yourself,” saying no to commitments can be one way to get simplicity in your life. I have found learning to say no to be liberating, because it helps me select what is most important to me and do that. Also, when I say no to one thing, it leaves open space for something better to come along.

Some questions I ask to evaluate opportunities are:

• How does this opportunity align with my personal or professional goals?
• What about this opportunity intrigues me?
• Is there anything about this opportunity that I’m unsure or not excited about? Why?
• What amount of time, energy and/or other resources am I willing to commit?
• Do I like the people I will be working with on this project?
• What does successful project completion look like to me?
• In what ways will I evaluate this project along the way to ensure it is in line with my expectations?
• What will I need to give up or change in order to make room for this project in my life?
• What are my deal-breakers?
• Why do I think I’m the best person to carry out this project?

Asking these questions helps me narrow down what I am and am not willing to commit to taking on. Keeping my own priorities in mind helps me evaluate opportunities and say yes to those I truly want, and no to those that don’t serve me well. I’ve learned that if you think a project is going to be a total headache, it probably will, so best get out while you still can.

Leaving in the midst of a project can be one of the hardest things you have to do. I have needed to back out on a few occasions, either because my circumstances changed or because the project turned out to be dramatically different than I expected. I have found that if backing out is done with grace, kindness and good will to those still involved, everyone will understand and feelings will be less likely to get hurt. And after the hard work of being honest with yourself and others about what you can handle, you will find room in your life for what you truly enjoy.

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