Are you overcommitted because you are afraid to say no? Learning to say no can mainly improve your productivity. How is this possible? Learning to say no on things or events that do not give an impact on your life can give you more time on things that you value the most. Maybe you are thinking that it may sound so rude, but you should learn to say no in a respectful manner.

It is not easy to say no when you are not sure about things that you matter the most. Plus, it is more difficult when you are experiencing social awkwardness and pressure when someone invites you. Here are some tips on how to say no gracefully.

Learning to say no with grace and respect

1. Separate the decision from the relationship

Sometimes you might be confused about the request because of the relationship you have with the requestor. Keep in mind when you refuse a request, you do not deny the person. You can always be honest with people you really know. Tell the person what you are up to and why you could not commit.

2. Do not say the word “no”

Various statements can be used to refuse an offer gracefully. Whenever someone offered you insurance or credit cards, you can say “thank you, but not today”. Also, you can say “I am flattered that you thought of me but I’m afraid I don’t have the bandwidth” or “I would very much like to but I’m overcommitted”.

3. Saying the soft “no’ (or the “no but”)

Random coffee invites are common. But sometimes there are instances when you are on the verge of finishing a project, studying for an exam or preparing for a presentation, you will more likely to refuse it because of what you are into, but you look forward to have it once you are done. You can say “I am consumed with preparing for my presentation right now but I would love to once I’m finished”.

Sometimes, the medium of invitation matters too. It is easy to say no when you are being invited through emails than in person because it is less awkward.

4. Saying “Yes. What should I deprioritize?”

If you are struggling saying no to the workloads being given to you by your boss, you can say “yes, I’m happy to make this but which among the workloads that you have given me should I deprioritize so that I can give my focus on this new work?” or “I would want to do a great job, and given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to do a job I was proud of if I took this on.” The intention here is not to compromise the quality of your works that your boss expects from you. With this, you are emphasizing to your boss that you work on essential things.

5. Use the words ” You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y“.

If someone asks a favor if you can drive them but you are doing something, you can say “you are welcome to borrow my car. I am willing to make sure that my car keys are here for you”. This kind of construct expresses respect by giving the person a choice.

Remember that saying no does not mean you need to say no at all requests. This article helps you on how to refuse on nonessential things in order to give more time and effort to the things that you value most. Because whether you like it or not, we all have the same number of hours within the day. Learning to say no signifies that you are in control of your life.

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