As a business owner, you may receive constant requests for your time from clients, vendors, colleagues and employees, as well as from family and friends. If you’re not careful, that precious time you need to focus on growing your business and taking care of yourself can be eaten away, leaving you stressed and behind schedule.
Though you want to be helpful to others whenever you can, developing the art of graciously saying “no” can be key to your survival and your sanity. Below are ten tips to help you:
1. Learn from the past—remember what it’s like to feel guilty and frustrated about commitments you’ve made to do things you don’t have the time, energy or desire to do.
2. Think and plan ahead, blocking out time on your calendar for activities important to you. Saying “no” is easier when that time is already scheduled for something else.
3. Commit to never giving an immediate response—request time to think about it. Simply say, “I need time to think about this. I’ll get back to you.”
4. Weigh the costs and rewards. Ask yourself, “Will scheduling this cause undue stress? Does this align with my goals?”
5. Learn to say “no” directly, without feeling guilty or giving a lengthy explanation. After all, you don’t usually offer a reason when you say “yes.”
6. Be prepared for others to push your boundaries and be ready to say “no” as many times as it takes.
7. You may be able to avoid a confrontation by offering the other party choices.
8. When you’ve said no, remember that you’re not responsible for others’ reactions.
9. Practice saying “no” until it feels comfortable without offering any explanation.
10. Before making a commitment, be sure you have a complete understanding of exactly what’s being asked of you.