Salisbury Press

Friday, February 28, 2020

Respectfully Yours: Just say no

Thursday, April 12, 2018 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

I’m a busy working mom of three boys and I have a lot on my plate. When I am asked to do something beyond my already full schedule, I have a habit of saying “Yes” to everyone. I’m starting to feel burnt out and resentful. Is there a way to say “No” without sounding like a bad person?

Dear Reader,

The tiny little word “no” is often the most difficult one to say.

If you are worried about hurting someone’s feelings or causing conflict there are ways to say “no” so that you remain likable. There are guilt-free strategies for saying “no.”

Take a moment and think before your give your answer. While you’re thinking, consider your priorities, and then either say “yes” or “no.”

Answering “no” quickly makes it obvious that no matter what the person would ask, your answer would be “no.” Start on a positive note by thanking the person for thinking of you. Then, be honest and follow it up with the reason you can’t accept the request.

If you can give the real reason you’re unable to help, it’s kind to let them know. “I’d love to help. Unfortunately, I’m already overextended.” It isn’t always necessary to over-explain. Keep your explanation short and sweet.

Sometimes a simple, “thank you” is all you need to offer. By saying less it makes it harder for someone to sabotage your “no” by pressuring you for more information as to why you won’t say “yes.”

If it’s someone you know well, it’s usually a lot easier to reply with a simple “no.” The proper “no” is a polite “no,” which is three things: a definitive answer, a summary of the reasons for it, and a suggestion for alternative.

If it’s someone you don’t know very well, the best approach is to phrase your refusal as kindly as possible. While remaining polite and warm, you must also be firm and confident.

Don’t let someone guilt you into doing something by making you feel bad about your decision. You will find self-respect in making decisions that are in line with your priorities, regardless of what others think of you.

There are nice ways to say “no” without feeling guilty. Keep your demeanor light, and, of course, smile.

Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn

Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation. All Rights Reserved © 2018 Jacquelyn Youst