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Leadership

The Power of Saying No: How to Make the Right Decision for You

Do you struggle with enforcing your boundaries or feel overwhelmed by requests? Use this guide to get more comfortable with saying "no".

One of the biggest challenges people struggle with is saying no. It may be a volunteer request from your kids’ school, an “optional” event invitation from a peer or a casual acquaintance making a guilt-ridden plea for your time, energy and expertise.

Whatever the scenario, chances are any time you say yes when your gut tells you NO, any or all of the following may occur:

  • The commitment or task takes two or three times longer than anticipated
  • Other responsibilities get pushed back or do not get done at all
  • You are exhausted, frustrated and mad at yourself

You could have spent that time working toward your goals or at least engaging in self-care. You promise yourself it won’t happen again… until it does. Stop the self-sabotage!

Yes or no: how to decide

Here is a simple way to avoid – or at least lessen – regret, wasted time and frustration.

Before you commit to anything, ask yourself three questions:

1) What is the benefit? Will it help me professionally, personally or both? Does it reflect my mission? 

2) What is the commitment? Do I have the time and bandwidth to take this on?

3) Do I want to do it? When it comes right down to it, this is really the only answer that matters. Something may not benefit you professionally. However, if it sounds like fun, that’s a good enough reason to go for it.

Final thoughts on saying no

Whenever you make a decision to do (or not do) something, consider yourself first. Granted, emergencies happen… and in those cases, the choice is clear. However, if someone asks for a favor, and your answer is NO, mean it, stick to it and keep any necessary explanation short and firm.

Think of saying NO as giving yourself the gift of time. And you can spend it any way you want!

How do you say, “no?” Do you keep it at “no,” or do you phrase it another way? Please share your experience in the comments.

Editor’s note: this article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

About the author

Goal-setting expert Debra Eckerling is the creator of The DEB Method, a system of goal-setting simplified. She is also the award-winning author of “Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals.” A corporate consultant, workshop leader and panel moderator, Eckerling is on a mission to change goal culture in and out of the workplace. She is the host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn and The DEB Show podcast.