It’s often said that women are more natural communicators than men…but there’s one word that many of us struggle to master. And that word is “no.” Female entrepreneurs often find themselves crushed under the weight of not only running their business but pleasing others to boot. How many of us end up saying “yes” to another favour, an extra workload, a night out we dread, just because it’s easier than saying what we really feel, which is “no.”
When we become accustomed to saying “yes” when we mean “no”, we put a falsely acquiescent, helpful face out to the world when, underneath the mask, we are curdling in toxic feelings of resentment.
Saying “no” is something that many of us are deeply uncomfortable with, particularly those of us who are natural people-pleasers. I’ll frequently hear women saying that they just don’t like confrontation, so they prefer to martyr themselves as other people steamroller right over their kindness.
When our mouth doesn’t say “no”, our body often does it for us – forcing us to stop and put our own needs first. Don’t wait till your body breaks down before you learn to say “no”: you can start today!
Learning to decline with grace, integrity and confidence is one of the most important skills you can learn. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it once you realise the power of no.
Here are a few pointers to help you be at peace with saying the word “no” by Functional Medicine Certified health coach and founder of Peppermint Wellness Suzy Glaskie.
Here’s how to say “no”
Practise using these sorts of phrases to get comfortable with declining to do something in a respectful, succinct way. Don’t fall into the trap of waffling on, backtracking, sweating, wringing your hands and apologising strenuously. You can simultaneously set boundaries and be helpful.
- “Now’s not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. How about we get together at X time?”
- “Let me think about it first and I’ll get back to you.”
- “I’m not the best person to help on this. I’d suggest you try X?”
- “I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
You will never, ever be able please everyone
If there are people who will get hacked off with you if you need to say “no” to something, let them. Your true friends will understand. It’s simply a fact that you will never be able to please everybody in the world.
It’s ok to feel left out sometimes
We all say “yes” for fear of being left out occasionally. But be sure to think things through before over-committing. Consider your priorities and how much energy you have; then you can evaluate if this experience will benefit your life. If it’s not worth it, let it go.
Saying “no” creates space for us to say “yes” to what we do want
When we follow our gut instincts, we create the space to find out what we do actually want to do with our time and energy. Each day, commit to doing a little less of what you don’t want to do… and a little more of what you do want to do.