Posted by: Abdul | January 23, 2010

Learn to say “NO”

One of my colleagues forwarded me a news article that appeared in the NYT recently. It was about a worker who died at desk for 5 days before the co-workers learnt about it. George, 51, who was working as proof reader at a firm in New York for 30 years.

It seems he passed away on Monday but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked why he was working during the weekend.

His boss said “George was always the first guy in each morning and the last to leave at night..……….”.

The morale of this story is ‘Don’t work too hard. Nobody notices anyways’.

Why do you think George ended up in this situation? I think he didn’t knew how to say NO…. to people making demands on the time.

With today’s busy schedules, George is not alone. There are many of us who are getting overscheduled and overstressed. The only way to get out of this vicious loop is to learn saying NO. This not only reduces stress levels but also gives time for other important issues that could make your life better.

There could be several reasons why one can’t say NO. Some of them could be:

–          Low self esteem

–          Lack of confidence

–          Lack of assertiveness

–          Out of guilt

–          Over confidence to do it

Benefits from saying NO would be many and some of them could be

–          It will free up time for other important jobs

–          It will free up time for yourself and for those you love.

–          It helps reduce stress levels

Now, practicing this will be very difficult. You will feel ashamed, guilty and low for saying NO. But you have to do it to have a better life!

This is an art and one has to master it. NO can be said in 3 different tones depending on the situation and circumstances.

  • A firm ‘NO’

Start the sentence with NO and be firm while saying it without showing any guilt or feeling ashamed. It is a straight NO without any excuse. For example

–          No, I am over scheduled. I cannot ……..

–          No, that’s out of question

–          No, not this time

–          No way

  • NO with excuse.

Sometimes you cannot say NO on the face for several reasons like your boss who considers NO as a negative attitude; a colleague who helps you often or your partner to regards you very high. You face these people daily and have to maintain the relationship.

Thus, you got to be a bit diplomatic here. Give an explanation to your NO but make it simple. Here are few examples:

–          I am sorry, I can´t do this right now because….

–          Thank you, but not this time

–          Sorry, but NO

–          I wish I could. But unfortunately at this moment I am already committed …

  • NO with a promise.

If you really like to do what they’re requesting, but don’t have the time. Then politely say NO with a promise to help at the earliest possible. Explain your current situation and your willingness to help them. Don’t be too promising though because they expect you to say ‘YES’ later and if you cannot make it then they will be more disappointed.

–          Let me think about it and get back to you.

–          I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now. But let me see what I can do

–          I am over scheduled. But ……

Let me summarize the benefits you will enjoy by saying NO

–          Less stress, physical and emotional

–          More time for discovering or renewing your old hobby

–          More time to join a health club

–          More time to spend with your family

–          More time to rekindle your lost love life

–          More restful sleep

–          More time to enjoy your social life

–          Save money on medical bills

That’s it for the moment. So next time if someone demands on your time, say NO, and don’t feel guilty or ashamed of it because a sincere NO will be valued and respected.

Good Luck.


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