I didn’t plan for this to be the confidence challenge for this month, but it kind of just happened. I found myself saying “No” a lot, and not only did I find that it got SO much easier, I discovered that people actually respect your limits when you state them.
I had a suspicion that saying no was a problem for me, but after I started working, my co-workers quickly confirmed it. I had a horrible time saying no when asked to come in early, stay late, or cover someone else’s shift. Even if I’d already made plans, or was already working my maximum number of hours, I still felt guilty, like I’d somehow let them down. The one and only time I called in sick (so far) I rehearsed what I’d say for fifteen minutes. I called, told the manager why I couldn’t come in, and all she said was, “Ok, thanks for letting me know.” And yet, I felt so guilty that I couldn’t stop myself from apologizing profusely.
1. “Crack a joke.” Using humor helps diffuse the tension and helps people not take the rejection too personally.
2. “Don’t over-estimate your importance.” This describes me exactly:”People who have a hard time declining others often exaggerate the impact their rejection will have on the other person. Then when they manage to say no, they divulge their guilty feelings or act like they’re intensely burdened by their own response – which succeeds only in making a spurned pal more uneasy.” It definitely helps take the pressure off to realize that it’s not that big of a deal to the other person, most of the time.
3. “Offer praise.” The president of a casting company offered this tip, and gave the example of turning down people who’ve auditioned for parts by complimenting them on something from their performance.
4. “Act now.” The literary agent who gave this tip tries to respond quickly when writers pitch her an idea so that they can submit their idea to someone else. She suggests doing the same when responding to a friend, client, or even a date when you know you want to say no. For something that’s a bigger responsibility, she recommends taking some time to think about it, but then responding with “I’ve given your request a lot of thought and I’m honored that you asked, but I don’t think I’m the right person.” Short, sweet, and to the point.