The Art of Saying No

The Art of Saying No Gracefully

Am I the only one who has struggled saying no? This two-letter word can be both powerful and liberating once we learn to use it properly. I believe there is an art to saying no and it’s one we should all aim to learn.

It’s been my experience that saying yes constantly will raise our stress like nothing else. Why do we feel compelled to say yes, all the time though?  Honestly, I feel it comes from a need to please. It could be that we believe that saying no is uncaring, even selfish, and we may have a fear of letting other people down. Perhaps we don’t want to be disliked, criticized, or risk a friendship.

No one wants to be seen as uncaring. However, trying to protect people from our no is a feeble attempt to keep them happy. Saying yes when we know the correct answer is no, is not a sustainable way to live. In the end our zeal to please sets us up to fail. This is why learning to say no is vital.

Finding our voice in order to achieve balance is a necessary skill. Something I had to learn was to say no without giving a list of reasons for my decision. This was a real challenge for me because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Reminding myself that empty vessels are weak vessels; meaning I can’t give what I don’t have was key for me.

Ultimately, we do more harm promising something we can’t fully commit to. After all its better to go through the uncomfortable feeling of saying no, then to make a promise we can’t keep.

Not being able to say no can have you in a perpetual state of exhaustion and stress. You could be compromising any efforts you make to improve your quality of life if you spend hours worrying over how to get out of an already promised commitment.

When we stretch ourselves too thin by over committing we end up paying a high price with our health. Over the course of my life I made this mistake way too many times and I can trace my decline in health to those moments I pushed beyond my comfort by saying yes, when what I should have said was no.

We all will exercise our right to say no whether it’s to a project, food item, or a relationship. There is an art to saying no without offending. Here are some tips I follow to help me stay true to myself.

7 Favorite Tips to Saying No

Know your limits and don’t play the comparison game

Not everything is as it appears. Upon closer inspection, you may realize that those who are constantly over committing deal with a high level of exhaustion both physically and emotionally.

Don’t let your yes be a knee jerk reaction

How many times have you blurted out yes before taking the time to examine your schedule? Instead, get into the habit of saying you will get back to them after you have had time to reflect.

Evaluate the true time a project will take

We often underestimate how much effort is needed to participate. Don’t ignore the true time and mental toll required when you commit to something.

Don’t schedule your life away

Sadly, we can live in a constant state of busyness because it’s what makes us feel important or needed. This should never be the reason to say yes to someone. It may take some painful soul-searching but ask yourself why you feel compelled to say yes so frequently. If not careful our insecurities will propel us into a cycle of over committing. Trying to please everyone is a sure path to exhaustion.

Be accountable

Listen to the warning cries coming from those closest to you. If you are constantly being told that you juggling too much, it’s a cue you’re not saying no enough.  I find that we are not very good at realizing our own tendency to over commit. The willingness to allow others to keep us in check is a gift, and one you should not take for granted.

Take it to the Lord in prayer

Taking the time to include God in your plans will ensure you are saying yes to the right projects and no to the ones that are not part of his will for your life.

Separate refusal from rejection

It’s vital you realize that turning down a request, is not turning down a person. People usually will understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask.

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The next time you find yourself conflicted about saying no, remember doing so may be the most generous answer you can give.

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