How to Effectively Say No to Situations That Aren’t In Your Alignment

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The only resource that we cannot get back is our time. Time is our most valuable currency and it’s something that we cannot create more of. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and I think it’s so important to be intentional with how you spend that time. The biggest disservice you can do for yourself or someone else is waste your time or theirs. I think this is something we can all agree on, but then why is it so hard to say no to things we don’t want to do, or things that won’t bring us a positive return?

Why Is It So Difficult to Say No?

Saying no may provoke for you a sense of guilt, or fear for being judged as lazy, mean or inconsiderate. You may feel that if you are responding with a rejection that you are hurting the feelings of someone else, or letting them down.

But if you take the alternate route and simply say yes then you may find yourself in situations you don’t want to be in or tied to commitments you don’t want to attend. Ultimately this can lead to bitterness, resentment and more severely unhappiness as you may begin to believe that people are asking of you because they want to punish you.

What to Consider When Making A Decision About a Commitment

Are you the person who constantly feels like they need to run through the conversation in your head of how you would say “No”? You play it out word for word. You create your list of reasons why but then they start to sound like excuses, at the last second you end up saying yes just to ease the uncomfortable feeling that the person asking might get if you were to say no. This is a less than ideal habit to fall into!

Say it with me, “It is not my job to be a people pleaser. I am not here to solve the problems of others just because I can.”

When I take a request into consideration, I often think about three things that the request has to fulfil for me to be happy committing. Those three things are time, money and value.

Time
Is what you are being asked to do worth your time? Time is the only thing you cannot get back.

Money
Will it cost you money? Do you want to put your money into it? Will it make you money?

Value

Does what is being asked of you align with your values? Does it light you up inside and make you feel good? Will it bring you any value? Value doesn’t always mean money; it also means the altruistic fulfilment you can get out of something.

Should You Allow People To ‘Pick Your Brain’?

I am often asked if I can go for coffee and have someone pick my brain. Now, for the person asking, this can be thought of as flattering and exciting to be able to learn and grow from someone. However, to those who hold knowledge and advice this is something that can eventually become exhausting!

If you are someone who is constantly asked to go for coffee, or being asked to do things for free because you are really good at it and you are getting frustrated with these requests then you are not alone! Even though it’s technically easy for you to spend an hour sitting and chatting about your craft over a latte it doesn’t mean you should do it.

You’ve spent years learning your skills, you’ve spent dollars investing in your education or your business, and your knowledge is incredibly valuable. Your time is limited and when there is no value in it for you it often becomes less enticing to share what you know. Even though the knowledge is second nature to you know you are not required to give it away for free.

How To Actually Say No Without Feeling Guilt

Although saying no can definitely be intimidating start by considering how you would feel if the roles were reversed. If you were asking someone for something and they said no to you chances are you wouldn’t be mad or make them feel bad for it. You’d probably totally understand. With that in mind a little kindness goes a long way. I am going to challenge you to reframe “no” into an act of kindness. Here are a few tricks that work for me every time.  

Give a Brief Explanation

Saying no outright with no context can leave a person feeling confused. By giving a brief and concise answer to their request it allows you to lead the conversation and leave the person feeling great even their initial request was not fulfilled. That being said it is not your job to justify your answer or create a list of excuses however, a quick explanation will leave everyone feeling more satisfied with how the situation played out.

Saying, “I’m sorry I can’t right now, but I will let you know when and if I can”.

This is another great way to approach any situation. This changes the dynamic and allows you to control the situation by letting them know you will reach out if something changes for you. It also doesn’t create a need for an excuse. It is honest and to the point.

8 Examples - How to Say No

Here are some different circumstances when you might need to say no and how I would recommend approaching it.

Situation 1: You don’t have the time in your schedule

“Thank you for thinking of me for ________ . I have made prior commitments that are time consuming and have filled my schedule, therefore I am not able to accept.”

Situation 2: You can’t take on another project at work

“I understand how important this is. Can we take a look at my current priorities together? There’s a lot of projects in motion right now and I want everything to be done properly. For me to give you the best possible results, I’ll either have to pause on other projects, or we will need to find someone else to take this on.”

Situation 3: Not interested

“I have to pass on this, but thank you for thinking of me.”

“Thank you for your kind offer. While it’s not something I choose to pursue, please know how honored I am to be asked.”*

*This script is from Bob Burg, co-author of The Go-Giver

Situation 4: You have your own thing going on

“Thank you for thinking of me for ________. It sounds fantastic and I love how passionate you are about it. I’m going to be cheering you on, but I cannot accept at this time. I am currently diving deep into my own personal projects and am not looking to take on collaborations unless I seek them out directly. I am grateful for you reaching out and congratulations again. I wish you all the success with _________.

Situation 5: Asking you to promote

“Thank you for thinking of me! To be honest, I believe in complete integrity. To me that means I am not able to promote unless I research, seek it out myself, tried it first or have seen results first hand. I wish you nothing but success with ________.”

Situation 6: If they try to negotiate

“I’d just rather not, but thank you so much for thinking of me.”

Situation 7: A simple no

“Thank you for reaching out but I’m not taking any ______________ at this time.”

Situation 8: You can’t respond to everyone

“Hello :)

I’m launching our new product lines, creating content for Brows by G, Browluxe and my Personal Brand Giovanna Minenna Co and managing 3 companies, which means I’m full! If I’m not expecting a note from you, please resend your message to hello@giovannaminenna.com and my team will respond as soon as they can.

Thanks! G”

You can have a static response that you copy and paste into inquires that you can’t get to or you could hire someone to respond to these message on your behalf like a personal assistant or customer service team. This is going to ensure you reach your clients without losing a personal touch. Just be sure to establish rules and criteria for each type of request so that your assistant knows how to best respond and always disclose who is actually answering the email. That allows your team to use their own voice to decline on your behalf.

Remember there is no harm in saying no to things that don’t feel right for you at the time. Your time is so, so valuable and you have the right to choose how you spend it, not how you think other people expect you to spend it! Your time is your most valuable asset so spend it in ways that bring you value and happiness!

I’d love to know if this blog post resonated with you. Let’s continue to discussion in the comments!

-G.

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