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How to Say "No" Gracefully

Valorie Burton


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Have you ever been asked to do something that you didn't want to do, but you said "yes" anyway? Many of us have done it. And for some, it is a consistent source of stress. This week, I want to share a message that warrants repeating. These are five simple, practical ways to begin saying "no" to opportunities, responsibilities, events and people in which you are not truly interested.

Whenever you say "yes" to something that is not meaningful to you, you limit the time you have for the things that are meaningful to you. In order to attract what you want into your life, you must make room for what you want. It can become very easy to fill your life with commitments that do not further your purpose, bring you joy, or help you create the life you really want. From projects you aren't excited about to babysitting when you don't want to, being able to say "no" is a key to enjoying a fulfilling life. If saying "no" makes you uncomfortable, here are five ideas to help you get over your fear and apprehension:

"Let me think about that" is an acceptable response when you don't feel sure about saying "yes" to someone. Give yourself the time to consider a request and then get back with the person in a set amount of time. If it is a particularly hard decision, pray about it. Then make a decision based on what you feel a sense of peace about doing.

Saying "no" isn't about being rude or inconsiderate of others' requests. It is very possible to say "no" honestly without offending others. One way is to be considerate enough to offer an alternative. "I won't be able to work on that project, but Mary has expressed an interest." "Now is not a good time, but if you can wait another week, I'll be glad to help." "My client load is full to capacity, but I would be glad to refer you to someone else." All of these are examples of offering an alternative.

The "disease to please" is the main cause of saying "yes" too often. Don't allow others to make you feel guilty because you won't do what they want when it does not fit within your purpose and vision for your life. When you allow others to manipulate you, you begin to harbor resentment against them even though you allowed them to do it. Simply refuse to allow attempted guilt trips to sway your decision.

Some people feel that if they don't have something else scheduled, they are obligated to participate in whatever activities others think they should participate in. Not so. You don't need an excuse to say "no." Perhaps you just want to rest or take a break. That's your prerogative. Embrace your right to control your schedule and spend your time doing what matters to you.

When you know your purpose and why you do the things you do, it becomes much easier to make decisions about what to say "no" to and what to say "yes" to. If you haven't already, get clear about your purpose. Use "Listen to Your Life" or "Rich Minds, Rich Rewards" as a resource to help you uncover your purpose. When you know your divinely-ordained purpose, decisions about your work, relationships, finances and other issues become easier to make.

Time is so precious. Use your time doing things that move you closer to your vision. You really don't have time for anything else!

My challenge to you this week:
Don't be quick to say "yes." People-pleasing will exhaust you!

Journaling assignment:
Answer this question for yourself - "Why do I feel pressured to say "yes" to others when I really want to say "no"? Who do I most need to practice saying "no" to? When will I start?





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About The Author


A bestselling author and Certified Personal and Executive Coach who has served clients in over 40 states and eight countries, Valorie Burton has written nine books on personal development, including Successful Women Think Differently and Happy Women Live Better. She is the founder of The CaPP Institute, providing tools and training that build resilience, well-being, and productivity for life and work. She has been a regular contributor on CNN, HLN, and the Today show, where she gives practical career and life advice. She has also been featured in and on The 700 CLub, The Dr. Oz Show, NPR