Do you find yourself saying “Yes” when what you really mean is “No”? As a consequence, you end up being overloaded with tasks and projects, fuming silently that your “to do” list is too long and unwieldy while everyone around you is happy. After all you are doing more than your fair share and their load is lighter

You might genuinely like being helpful and thrive on being busy but what if a chronic inability to say “No” is weighing you down? Constantly putting the needs of others before those we have ourselves comes at the expense of our own well-being. We do this for a number of possible reasons…because we want to be liked; we fear what people might think of us if we turn down their requests for help; we don’t want to be seen as egotistical; or we may lack confidence and not understand how to be assertive without hurting the feelings of others.

Here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Build your ability to worry less about what people think of you – especially if within reasonable limits, saying “No” has no immediate negative impact for the other person.
  • Accept that you feel a bit anxious – if you are new to saying “No” it’s normal to feel like until a new pattern of behavior is in place.
  • Live with the discomfort rather than letting it bully you into saying “Yes” – you have to get used to the new you.
  • Explain simply, concisely and politely to the other person that you can’t help them right now – stay focused on the facts.
  • Encourage the other person to think of alternative solutions – by all means empathize with their needs but ask a few open questions to open the door to different options.
  • If you are still keen to help, then look for an acceptable compromise – smaller ways to assist or ask if you can be helpful at a later date.
  • Be true to yourself – if it really doesn’t work for you to leap into action then have the confidence to say “No” and don’t feel guilty.

You might also like our tip on how to Bust your Stress