I have the magic word that's going to instantly lighten your load. The magic word is... No! According to Connie Glaser, author of the book More Power To You! How Women Can Communicate Their Way To Success, saying 'yes' all the time is the worst thing we can do for ourselves and for other people. Why? Because agreeing to things we don't want to do makes us resentful. So, here are Glaser's tips on how you can say 'no' without feeling like a jerk.
  • First: keep it simple. Glaser says the more reasons you give for saying 'no,' the more likely the other person will try to change your mind. Your slew of excuses shows you feel guilty, and dilutes your message. Other people may use this as an opportunity to persuade you to say yes. So what's the easy, effective way to say 'no?' Try this: 'Thank you for asking, but I just can't!'
  • Next: be positive. If you follow your 'no' with a positive statement, you create a win-win situation for both you and the person who's asking for your help. So, if a friend asks you to work at her PTA bake sale, but you can't, say something like 'I can't help with the sale, but I'll send a batch of brownies.' This way, your friend doesn't feel slighted because you're going to contribute the brownies, and you feel good because you don't feel trapped into doing something you don't want to do.
  • And the final tip for saying 'no': look them in the eye. Glaser says we tend to look at the floor when saying 'no' because we feel guilty about declining a request. But looking at the ground opens the door for persuasion. Why? Because people instinctively know you're feeling guilty when you can't look them in the eye. And if they know you're feeling guilty, they're more likely to persuade you to say 'yes.' So the next time you say 'no,' look the person directly in the eye, and politely decline their request.
If you'd like to go further, check out Cynthia Glaser's book More Power To You! How Women Can Communicate Their Way To Success.