Saying “NO”

How often do people ask you to do something and you just reply, “Sure”. And as a result of that, you’re overwhelmed by how much extra work you have to do. We become frustrated even though we were the ones who said yes to help them in the first place. We agree to many requests not because we want to do the work, but because we don’t want to be seen as rude or arrogant.

It worries us that if we deny the someone’s request then they will end the friendship between us or it will lead to an awkward situation the next time we meet them. But this is not the case. The person who we say NO to will not be thinking about how rude you were. They will simply move on to the next person to ask for help. 

Economist Tim Harford said, “Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time”. We compromise the valuable time that we have, to do work for others when we could be productive working to improve our life skills that will actually help us.  

A simple “no” is the perfect solution. We think that this one word will cause a lot of problems but in reality, it can be the most powerful tool. Saying no is an important skill to develop at any stage of your career because it retains the most important asset in life: your time. You need to say no to whatever isn’t leading you toward your goals. You need to say no to distractions. For instance, if you originally planned to do work but your friend calls you for a video game, you have to say NO to him so that you don’t cause trouble to your future self.

Of course, saying a simple NO will not always suffice. They will always ask a follow up question of “WHY?”. Therefore, we need to learn how to say NO without sounding rude.

Some of the kind ways to decline are, “Unfortunately, I’ll need to pass on this”, “I’m sorry, but I will not be able to”, “Sadly, I can’t”.

The examples of phrases to avoid are, “hmm, I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”, “It’s tough to say”, “Well, maybe I could do it. But…”.

Saying no saves you time in the future, whereas saying yes costs you time in the future. No is a form of time credit. You retain the ability to spend your future time however you want. Yes is a form of time debt. You have to pay back your commitment at some point. No is a decision. Yes is a responsibility.

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