Everybody’s busy – especially during the holidays. Which means, we’re all pretty much overextended, overstressed, and overwhelmed. It also means that extra requests from family and friend could send us off the deep end. Like a neighbor asking if you’ll feed their dogs while they’re away. So, here’s how to say “no” when you need to – without upsetting anybody. We got these tips from clinical psychologist Linda Sapadin, and First magazine:
- So, let’s say you’re afraid to tell someone “no” because you’ll hurt their feelings. The antidote? Focus on a promise you made to yourself. For example, if a friend wants to meet you for dinner, instead of tossing out an excuse like, “I have to work late,” try this: “I’d love to. But I really have to stick to my budget this month.” Or try, “I’d love to see you, but I’m really tired and I need to be at my best tomorrow. Can we make plans for the weekend?” Giving a reason that includes a personal goal will spare their feelings, and make it more likely that they’ll say “yes” to you.
- The next I-can’t-say-“no” worry: You’ll look selfish and self-important. The fix is: Come up with two factual reasons you need to bow out. For example, if a fellow parent is bugging you to volunteer for the school holiday fundraiser, try this: Explain that you’ve got out-of-town family visiting that weekend and you already gave the fundraising committee a check. Shifting the reason away from yourself – even for a moment – can banish the selfish image.
- Finally, maybe you’re afraid if you say “no” they’ll retaliate. For example, just as you’re about to walk out the door, your boss hands you a pile of paperwork. You’re afraid if you don’t do it right now, you won’t get your Christmas bonus. The fix is: Give them an action-oriented solution and use the word “and” instead of “but.” So, when your boss hands you that pile of work, don’t say, “But I have plans for tonight!” Try this instead: “I know this needs to get done and it’ll be finished by 10 a.m. tomorrow.” It shows you’re on it, and they can’t complain if you shut off your computer and go home.