How to Say 'No'

How to Achieve Work/Life Balance

By Matt Alderton

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Can you work late tonight? Would you mind helping out on this project? Would you consider volunteering for that committee? Can you help plan the company's next team outing? If you're like most people, your day is littered with questions. And while the easiest answer might always be "yes," the best answer is often "no."

"Always saying yes isn't healthy," according to the Mayo Clinic. "When you're overcommitted and under too much stress, you're more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick."

Saying "no" also allows you to honor your existing obligations, pursue other interests and create new opportunities for your colleagues, who'll have the chance to accept new responsibilities in your place.

Just because "no" is easy to spell, however, doesn't mean it's easy to say. Or is it? "The word 'no' has power," according to the Mayo Clinic. "Don't be afraid to use it. Be careful about using wimpy substitute phrases, such as 'I'm not sure' or 'I don't think I can.' These can be interpreted to mean that you might say yes later."

However you say it, make sure you say it:

Briefly: "State your reason for refusing the request, but don't go on about it. Avoid elaborate justifications or explanations."
Honestly: "Don't fabricate reasons to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker."
Respectfully: "Many good causes land at your door and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the group's effort while saying that you can't commit at this time shows that you respect what they're trying to accomplish."
Repeatedly: "You may find it necessary to refuse a request several times before the other person accepts your response. When that happens, just hit the replay button. Calmly repeat your no, with or without your original rationale, as needed."

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