An invitation is an opportunity and not a command.
-Ann Voskamp, shared by Carolyn in Blacksburg, VA
The best way to invest your emotional energy wisely is to get comfortable saying no thank you. This way you can focus on what is truly worth your time.
–Yung Pueblo, shared by Pete in Ft. Myers, FL
Last week’s issue of Ripples focused on boundaries and I promised to follow up with one of the most helpful skills we need in order to set and maintain healthy boundaries: the ability to say NO. Here are the tips I shared in a recent Zoomy Zoom and podcast episode:
1. Consider Your Options
Many of us have developed a mindset that when someone asks for help, good people will say YES and bad people will say NO. I think it is far more accurate and more useful to keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time and energy, so any time someone asks you to spend some time and energy helping them, you have an obligation to yourself, to them, and to anyone else you’re planning to help to consider your options:
Option A: If I say YES to this person, who or what am I saying NO to? What tasks am I not going to be able to accomplish with the same quality and care if I add this obligation to my already full plate?
Option B: If I say NO to this person, who or what is going to get a better, higher quality YES?
2. Delay Your Response
Most of us can’t process all of this on the spot during the same moment someone asks for help, so the second thing I encourage people to keep in mind is that it is usually wiser to delay your response. Tell the person you need a day to check your schedule and also check in with _____ (your boss, team, family or yourself), just to make sure you can fully commit to the task.
3. Script Your NO
Saying NO can be difficult, awkward, and uncomfortable especially if you’re normally someone who most often says YES YES YES. I’ve found it super helpful to have several templates and scripts close at hand so I can practice and deliver a NO in a way that is firm but fair, polite and also direct. Over the years I’ve refined a “cheat sheet” that includes the standard lines I use to say no and also links to articles and blog posts I’ve collected over the years that have compiled dozens (hundreds!) of other scripts and templates. I posted them in this Google Doc.
Are you in? (Remember, NO is a perfectly reasonable option!)
P.S. I’m curious to hear from Ripplers who regularly check the Daily Splash page. If that’s you, please reply to this email and tell me about how many days a week you think you peek at the quote, and what percentage of them would you rate as “good” or “great” for you to ponder.