How to Say No To a Thousand Things With Grace
Saying no is its own skill. We start with limited experience but can get better at it over time.
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In the book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less", Greg McKeown offers seven effective ways to say no:
The Awkward Pause When a request comes to you in person, pause and count to three before delivering your decision. Or simply wait for the other person to fill the void
The Soft “No” (or the “No But”) Explain that you are focused on other things right now but would love to get together once you’re done with them
“Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” This will give you time to pause and assess your priorities. Take back control of your own decisions rather than be rushed into a “yes”
Use Email Bouncebacks Why limit email auto-responses to holidays? Train other people to respect your productivity, work, and time by using an automatic response
Say, “Yes. What should I deprioritize?” Remind your superiors what you would be neglecting if you said yes and force them to deal with the trade-off
State What You Are Willing To Do For example: “You are welcome to borrow my car. I am willing to make sure the keys are here for you.” By doing this you are also saying that you won’t be able to drive the person but instead you frame it in terms of what you willing to do
“I can’t do it, but X might be interested.” It is tempting to think that our help is uniquely invaluable, but often people requesting something don’t really care if we’re the ones who help them — as long as they get the help