You’re stuck at work during lunch break to finish up tasks for that bossy co-worker in the corner, who does nothing but update his profile on every networking website possible, with his feet up on his desk. Whenever he is given several tasks he will come crying to you for a favor with a lame excuse to why he can’t be the one doing it, like he has to send out an important email and if he doesn’t the world will cease to function. You look at his face, and you know he is being evasive of his responsibilities and you are having a war within yourself to say yes or no. When you open your mouth to say no, something makes you say yes.

Why? It is because you have not learned to say no. This is because you don’t want to seem rude or ill-mannered and you are bothered by the opinion of others, fearing their displeasure. You are afraid of not being accepted by your peers and labeled as someone who is arrogant and selfish. You also consider the fact that saying no can disrupt a harmonious relationship between you and your coworker, and to not disrupt that relationship you are pressurized into saying yes.

This is harmful behavior as it will cause you excess stress and you may burn-out. You are going to be tired and worn out from fulfilling such requests, so much so, that it can have a negative effect on your health. It is your right to choose, and be vocal about issues that cause you stress that isn’t even yours to deal with in the first place. It is possible to set boundaries without being mean. Here are 7 ways to assert some boundaries without sounding mean:

1. Start saying “No”

To change your ways, you must always start small and in this scenario pick something minor to say no to. This will give you the necessary confidence boost to show you that people can manage without you and that they will not hold it against you.

2. Trust your body instinct

Your mind and body work very closely together to keep you functioning, trust what it has to say. If a favor makes you uncomfortable and weighty then say no to the request. If the favor asked doesn’t make you uneasy then consider saying yes.

3. Let go of what people will think

People will always have an opinion about you, what should be important is not letting every opinion matter. It is normal to have concerns over what people think about you, you can feel guilty or anxious that people will not trust you or value your opinion if you say no. These feelings will not go away quickly or easily, but you can start by saying “No”.

4. Stay firm. Don’t be apologetic when your answer is “No”

Don’t apologize if your answer has to be “No.” Rather, start off with appreciation and then end the conversation with saying “No”. This will be an effective way of communication without giving offense. For example, “I appreciate that you trust me enough to confide you problems; however, I am unable to help you in this regard.” Remember, saying no is your right and you have nothing to apologize for as you have not done anything wrong.

5. Be short and confident in your “No”

Be upfront and honest about saying no. Do not doubt yourself, as people will see that doubt as a window of opportunity, which they will eagerly exploit. You also don’t owe people an explanation for saying no. For example, “I cannot finish your report for you this week; please ask someone else.”

6. Be clear about what “Yes” means

If you know what you want to say yes to it becomes easier to say no. Take a step back and assess what you want and what your priorities; then accept accordingly.

7. Implement ASSA

ASSA stands for:

  • Alert the individual that you need to talk to them.
  • State your issue by revealing to the person what the problem is. Tell them why it’s an issue.
  • Sell the advantages to them for acting better towards you. For example, “you will seem professional”.
  • Agree. Seek agreement for doing things differently in future.

Featured photo credit: happy girl on the road in a wheat field at sunset via shutterstock.com

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