Polite refusal: how to say “no”

We’re afraid of offending, angering, and disappointing the people we refuse. We are also afraid of damaging the good relationships we already have. But is our lack of response always beneficial? And how do we learn to say “no” without infringing on the interests of our own and our loved ones?

How to learn how to tactfully refuse and minimize stress in a situation where you have to say “no”? Ten steps from the master of time management Leo Babauta will help to restructure consciousness and become more decisive. After all, by agreeing to the requests of others, we risk not only their own interests, but also the needs of our loved ones.

1. Learn to value your time. Make a list of responsibilities: work, children, home, time for yourself, personal life. Isn’t the schedule pretty busy? Don’t you need a really good reason to break it?

2. Decide on your priorities. What’s more important to you – a long-planned dinner with your parents or hanging out with a friend who just needs to occupy the evening? Going to a nightclub with colleagues or prepare an important project? It’s up to you to decide. The main thing – consciously.

3. Say “no” more often. The more often you say “no” to annoying petitioners, the easier the word flies off your lips. And sometimes a categorical chord “no and no again” is the only way to get your point across.

4. Don’t apologize. We usually precede rejection with a polite apology. But it’s precisely those that make some people think we’re guilty and, if pressured, quick to back down. You have to be firm: defend your time until the last minute.

5. Don’t try to please everyone. Many insecure people try to win everyone’s approval, going on the sidelines of others. They believe that their gentleness and willingness to help will be appreciated. People get used to this and begin to take your kindness for granted. This is not what you wanted, is it?

6. Try saying no to your boss. Your boss has once again burdened you with work until deep into the night. You think that, by refusing numerous tasks, you show your unwillingness to give your best. But too much workload reduces your productivity and jeopardizes the entire work process. Why not explain to your boss that you will be able to handle his tasks much better by following a clear plan with a list of priority tasks? And don’t let them go beyond the workday.

7. Anticipate the attack of the askers. It’s much easier to let them know you’re busy before the request is made. For example, you know that someone else’s duties will try to dump them on you at the briefing. Take precautions by announcing in advance that you’ve just begun a new, complicated task and are loaded.

8. “I’ll think about it.” Instead of giving an answer right away, say that you will think about it and make your decision known. This will give you time to carefully consider your priorities and think through the pros and cons of saying no. Also, a delayed refusal looks less rude.

9. “Maybe next time.” If there’s something in the proposal you’re voicing that appeals to you not now, but in the long run, it’s best to limit yourself to the following phrase: “I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t have time right now. Perhaps you could approach me about it… tomorrow/weeks from now/months from now, and so on.”

10. “The problem is me.” The classic excuse for breaking up with a partner works in other situations as well. However, here it is important to be sincere. The request with which you were approached, worthy of all the attention and legitimate? Acknowledge it, compliment the asker, but say that, unfortunately, this time something did not work out.