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Every choice moves us closer to or farther away from something. Where are your choices taking your life? What do your behaviors demonstrate that you are saying "yes" or "no" to in life?

 

— Eric Allenbaugh —

 

 

This might sound counterintuitive, but moving forward requires saying “no.” Yet saying “no” is a hard skill to develop, especially if you enjoy helping people. Who wants to be considered rude or create conflict because of saying “no?” At the same time, if you say “yes” to everything, you are actually saying “no” to things that are important. Have you ever thought about it that way? I’m not sure about you, but this entire “yes” and “no” discussion makes my brain hurt.

 

So, let’s make it simple. Since forward is the direction of success, successful people learn how to say “yes” to decisions that move them forward and “no” to decisions that cause them to stand still or move backwards. They don’t go ballistic saying “no” to every single thing that is not 100 percent mission critical, but they strategically say “no” when saying “yes” is unwise.

 

Here are a few strategies that will help you say “no” without burning bridges:

 

Strategy #1—Just say “no.” Just say, “I’m sorry. I cannot do that right now.” Be authentic and even sympathetic, but be firm. If someone pressures you to explain why, tell them that fitting this new thing into your schedule would cause you break another commitment you have made to yourself. If the person keeps pressuring you, repeat what you already said, and if they still won’t drop it, walk away because now they are being rude.

 

Strategy #2—Just say “maybe.” If you are not sure whether you should say “yes” or “no,” you can say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” This gives you a chance to think through your options for a while and keeps you from making a decision too quickly.

 

Strategy #3—Just say “yes, but…” If you want to say “yes,” but realize that you cannot agree to everything being asked of you, be honest. Say something like, “I cannot do this, but I can…” and suggest what you can do.

 

Other helpful tips:

 

  • Always be polite, but firm. Show that you are a caring person, but don’t fall for pressure tactics.

 

  • If you tell someone that you will think about it and get back with her, then be proactive and get back with her. Don’t use this tactic as a way of avoiding a decision.

 

  • As stated above, if someone wants an explanation, you do not have to give a dissertation. The best approach is to be clear that saying “yes” means saying “no” to another commitment. Time is one of our most valuable resources, and since there are only so many hours in the day, we must invest our time wisely.

 

 

A “no” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than
a “yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.

 

- Gandhi -

 

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Comment by Kent Julian on October 11, 2011 at 3:59pm
Can be hard for me too...but I always remember saying "yes" to one thing usually means "no" to something else.  Helps me decide which "yes" is more important.
Comment by Kevin Troupe on October 11, 2011 at 10:58am
Good advice...and timely for me. I am a "yes" kind of person but credibility suffers when I can't deliver on that yes. I am faced with diappointing two parties...them and myself.
Comment by Erin Casey on October 11, 2011 at 9:30am
So, so hard for me. But I'm learning! For some reason it hurts less to hear no than to say it.

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