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Mary's Moments Blog Post

HOW TO SAY “NO” GRACEFULLY

How do you count the number of “yes” and “no” statements we make everyday?


Saying "yes" to embracing new opportunities is exciting. But what about saying "no"? It's a word often laden with guilt, fear, and the worry of disappointing others. Yet, learning to say "no" gracefully is a vital skill that preserves our time, energy, and well-being.


Imagine sitting around the dinner table with your family. Your cousin excitedly invites you to her birthday party next weekend. You're already feeling stretched thin with work and other commitments, but you hesitate to decline. Why? Because saying "no" might make her sad or disappointed.


You want to make her happy, right? But what about your own happiness and well-being?


Saying "no" can tug at our heartstrings. We fear letting others down, appearing selfish, or damaging relationships. The thought of disappointing a friend or family member can send pangs of guilt through our hearts. We worry about being judged or rejected. These feelings are natural, but they shouldn't dictate our choices.


I was a natural-born people pleaser.

 

For a good portion of my life, I sacrificed my own happiness and self-worth in order:


·       To avoid judgment

·       To get approval

·       To fit in

·       To gain social favor

·       To feel enough

·       To protect myself from harm

 

What I was really doing by chasing external approval was valuing what others thought about me over my own voice and decisions. Let me tell you, it was a recipe for exhaustion.

 

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of people pleasing and obsessing over others’ opinions of you, I want you to know there IS another way. And it leads to freedom, self-love, and true self-expression.  Oh, and did I mention the confidence you’ll have?

 

It's your chance to:


·       Shift from seeking external validation to owning your self-worth

·       Stop chasing the compliments and approval of others

·       Break free from the people-pleasing trap and finally be YOU

·       Give yourself permission to follow your dreams, unafraid of judgment

·       Discover the amazing, confident person that’s waiting to shine


Set Boundaries:



Without fences around our gardens, plants can overrun each other.  Similarly, without boundaries, our lives can become overrun by commitments and obligations. Saying "no" is like setting a fence around your garden. It establishes clear boundaries and protects your time, energy, and mental health.


What happens when we don't say "no"? The consequences can be profound.


Overcommitment leads to stress, burnout, and resentment. You may find yourself stretched thin, unable to give your best in any area of your life.


Relationships may suffer as you struggle to balance competing demands. Ultimately, the inability to say "no" can erode your well-being and happiness.


Saying "no" doesn't have to be harsh or confrontational.


Here are some tips for saying "no" gracefully:


1.     Be Honest: Express your reasons for declining honestly and respectfully. For example, "I'd love to come to your party but I have a prior commitment that day."


2.     Offer Alternatives: If possible, suggest alternatives or compromises. For instance, "I can't make it to dinner tonight, but how about we plan something next week?"


3.     Use Empathy: Acknowledge the other person's feelings while standing firm in your decision. You might say, "I understand that this is important to you, but I'm unable to take on additional commitments right now."


4.     Practice Self-Compassion: Remember, it's okay to prioritize your own needs and well-being. Saying "no" doesn't make you selfish; it's an act of self-care.


5.     Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and communicate them openly with friends and family. Respect yourself enough to say "no" when necessary.


So when do we say “yes”? 


Saying "yes" is important when you genuinely want to do something, when it aligns with your values, and when it brings you joy or helps someone else. It's good to say "yes" to opportunities that excite you, like trying new activities or spending time with loved ones. Saying "yes" can also show kindness and support to others, like when a friend needs help or when your family wants to spend time together.


When saying "yes," it's important to consider if you have the time, energy, and resources to commit to what you're agreeing to, so you can follow through and enjoy the experience. Saying "yes" in these situations can lead to positive outcomes and strengthen your relationships.


The workplace is no different. As a matter of fact, it can be the hardest place (for many reasons) to set boundaries.


Saying No in the workplace could look something like:

RULE

EXAMPLE

Open with appreciation instead of apology

Thank you for thinking of me.  Unfortunately, I can’t take on any more responsibilities right now.

Be completely honest

To be totally honest, I’m just not interested in that at the moment.  I’ll keep you posted if things change.

Suggest someone who might be a good fit

I can’t give this the attention it deserves but I know someone who might be able to assist.

Keep collaboration options open for a future time

I’m spread too thin to commit to this right now, but I would love to discuss it again in January.

Establish a firm set of rules that you stick to

I really appreciate the offer but I have a strict rule against coffee meetings as I get lots of requests

Saying "no" isn't about closing doors; it's about opening the right ones. By learning to say "no" gracefully, you create space for what truly matters in your life. You honor your time, energy, and well-being. And guess what? People respect honesty and authenticity. When you say "no" with grace, you strengthen relationships built on mutual understanding and respect.


When is it appropriate to say "yes" at work?


When you're able to take on a task or project and complete it effectively. Saying "yes" shows that you're willing to contribute to the team and support the goals of your workplace. If you have the skills, time, and resources to fulfill a request from your boss or help a co-worker, saying "yes" can build trust and show your commitment to your job. It's also a good idea to say "yes" to opportunities for growth and learning, like taking on new challenges or attending training sessions.


However, it's important to consider your workload and priorities before agreeing to anything, so you can manage your time wisely and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Saying "yes" at work can lead to new opportunities, professional growth, and positive relationships with your colleagues.


Though "yes" and "no" are equally important, learning to say "no" gracefully is a journey of empowerment. It's about honoring your own needs while respecting the feelings of others.


So, the next time you're faced with a decision, if it doesn’t feel right or you are already stretched too thin, saying "no" could be the choice.  It is not a rejection; but rather a declaration of self-preservation.

 

Keep yourself in check to have the freedom to say "yes" or "no" whenever you need.


Skip the burnout and stay focused on new opportunities!

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