So here we are. You’re strapped getting both your business and your household ready for the holidays, and you’ll be hard pressed to finish what’s already on your plate, when your best friend’s mom asks if you can squeeze in an order for her next week!#?!
And then, your sweet but unaware neighbor asks you to watch her kiddo for an hour or two while she runs to a Dr. appt. By all outside appearances you are the epitome of a superhero, but in reality you are struggling to juggle your own kids while trying to double task getting the house ready and operate your business.
I could come up with ten more scenarios in about a second, so I’ll just stop right here and let you craft your own storyline for when you’ve needed to say NO and had a hard time conjuring up the words.
I mean, what if you make your friend’s mom mad? What if your neighbor thinks you’re a jerk? What if that customer never comes back around and you just lost a potential, longterm customer? The weight of the world is resting on your shoulders and saying NO will potentially spin it off its axis!
Little word of advice, friends. It's time to STOP asking “what if” and START asking, “so what?”
We’re about to hit the high season for endless opportunities to say NO in your personal and professional lives. You have to remember, whenever you say YES to something, it comes at a cost to something else.
YES, I can take that order. NO to sleep and sanity.
YES, I can come to that party. NO to having the margin to recharge for the evening.
YES, I can watch your kid during my work hours. NO to having family time in the evening.
Get where I’m going here? We will run ourselves ragged in a mad sprint towards creative burnout if we don’t set boundaries and start saying NO.
So, before you begin hyperventilating just thinking about telling your boss’s daughter you’re already booked, consider these 6 tips that work for even the most intense people pleasing personality types.
How can you say NO and not feel bad?
1. Just say it. Don’t beat around the bush, put it off or drag it out. If you know you shouldn’t or can’t, don't delay it by saying, "lemme look at my schedule and get back with you.”The longer you drag it out, the more likely you’re actually going to say YES when you should be saying NO.
2. Realize the repercussions won’t be as dramatic as you build them up in your head. People often have a hard time saying NO because they haven't taken the time to evaluate the relationship and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand your relationship dynamic, you won't feel as worried about the consequences of saying NO. You'll realize that your relationship is solid and can withstand boundaries.
3. Give a brief reason. Listen, you don’t have to list out, in great detail, everything that’s going on in your life and your laundry list of of to-do’s. A simple, straight forward and gentle “No, unfortunately. I don't have the margin that week” will do just fine.
4. Cushion that “NO” with kindness or a compliment. For example, "Thank you so much for thinking of me. I know your event is going to be amazing and one of a kind” or “I love hanging out with you, but I just can’t make it work this time.”
5. Offer an alternative. If you’re saying NO to business, point the person to another vendor who could help them. Don’t live in the scarcity mindset that keeps you from referring customers to what they really want or need. As a baker, there is no way I have the capacity to single handedly handle all the requests for custom cookies. But I do have a network of 3-5 other local bakers that I can refer customers to. Can’t babysit that neighbor’s kid? Hand them the name of a sitter in the neighborhood. Offering an alternative will ease your guilt and be helpful.
6. Keep the door open. Just because it’s a NO right now, doesn’t mean it always has to be a NO. Asking, "Would you please consider me for another time?” is a polite way to make sure the door remains open for future business, professional opportunities or personal engagements.
From one recovering people pleaser to another, there’s one thing I know for sure; NO is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. What might be difficult at first will become easier in time, I promise.
So, get ready, get set and get flexing your NO muscles this season.