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Why You Should Master the Art of Saying No

Why You Should Master the Art of Saying No

Yes or no?

The choice between these two could not be greater, but — despite what you might have been taught — no is just as important as yes.

Let me explain.

It’s a common misunderstanding that successful people say “yes” to everything. In fact, when we do this, our performance suffers, making it impossible for us to keep on top of everything. In the end, we let everyone down — especially ourselves.

While it’s true that we should jump on opportunities that benefit our long-term goals and provide us with satisfaction — many people confuse this with the idea of saying “yes” to anyone who asks for a favor or presents us with an opportunity. Of course, the reason people like to say “yes” is obvious; it’s the hope that the favor or opportunity will somehow weave itself into their ultimate goals.

But, here is what career counselor Dara Blaine has to say on this subject:

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“We live in a ‘yes’ culture, where it’s expected that the person who is going to get ahead is the go-getter who says yes to everything that comes their way. However, it’s when people learn to say no that I’ve really seen their careers take off.”

Why You Should Say No More Often

So why should you become comfortable with saying no?

Well, firstly, when you say “yes” to everyone, your priorities will be shifted away from your own and towards other people’s. You’ll also have a tendency to feel burnt out and stressed because your time is not being allocated as you wish.

And, it gets worse…

By constantly saying “yes”, you won’t have the time or bandwidth to dedicate to things that are important to you (such as your career, hobbies and family). And — despite what you might think — you’ll come across as lacking confidence, as other people will consciously or unconsciously perceive you as someone with low assertiveness when it comes to your own needs and boundaries.

Saying “no” should come easily, right? 

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You would think so. Yet a lot of people, especially those who identify as people-pleasers, find it very difficult to utter this two-letter word.

But, let me share a secret with you: it’s futile to try and please everyone.

Another factor that stops people (perhaps even yourself) from saying no, is a fear of disappointing others. While this is an understandable fear, remember that you have to take care of yourself; and if you’re overly stressed and tired, you won’t be of much help to those you dedicate your time to.

Outline Your Priorities

Do you know what you need to get done versus what you feel obligated to do?

Think about that question for a moment.

In my experience, it’s vital not to let things go unchecked. Because if you’re trying to juggle TOO MUCH, there’s no way you’re dedicating enough time to the things that need it most — whether this be at work, home or beyond.

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If you’re unclear about your priorities, take some time to list all the things you’re currently doing, the things you want to be doing, and the things you are doing.

The most important things will stand out to you, and you’ll quickly be able to think of reasons why these matter to you.

The next step, is to think of other items you’ve committed to — such as volunteering at an event simply because you don’t want to let a casual acquaintance down.

Learning to prioritize effectively can help you become more efficient, save you time and decrease your stress. That’s because, once you know what’s most important, it’s easier to decide where to focus your time and energy.

How to Say No Effectively

So now you know why you should say no and how to prioritize your tasks. The question you might be asking yourself is: “How do I say no?”  

The answer can be found in the seven tips below:

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  1. Be direct, and use phrases such as, “no, I don’t want to” or “no, I can’t.” 
  2. Don’t feel the need to apologize or to make up reasons for not doing something. 
  3. It’s better to say “no” at the outset if you can’t or don’t want to do something. This will prevent you from feeling resentful later.
  4. Use the power of politeness, by responding, “thanks for asking, but…”
  5. Picture yourself saying no. You can do this by running ‘mental movies’ in your mind that show you confidently declining requests for your time or effort. (This will make it much easier to say no in real life.)
  6. Avoid saying things like, “let me think about it,” if you already know that you don’t want to do it.
  7. Always remember that your self-worth is not dependent on what or how much you do for others.

To really drive home these points, please re-read all of them again before going any further.

Now, you don’t have to adopt all seven tips, but you’ll probably want to adopt at least two or three. By doing this, you’ll gain the emotional and mental strength to take back control of your life.

When you think you’re being taken advantage of — you’ll say no. And when you’re being asked to do things that will distract you from your priority tasks — you’ll also say no.

“No” is an incredibly powerful word that can cut through the dross in your life. And, once your start regularly using this word; your confidence will soar, and you’ll put your life on a new trajectory.

Featured photo credit: Abbie Bernet via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on December 2, 2020

6 Surefire Tips to Build Self-Confidence That Is Unstoppable

6 Surefire Tips to Build Self-Confidence That Is Unstoppable

Aren’t we all just supposed to “fake it till we make it“? Isn’t that the key to success, how we should build self-confidence? Millions of books proclaim this diatribe each year. We’re told to plaster on a smile, don the latest fashion, and give ourselves positive pep talks in the mirror each morning.

If you’re anything like me, you have read hundreds of self-help books and tried to catch the confidence bug. You might have even tried to tap into your inner Tony Robbins and cover your apartment with thousands of positive post-it notes. But, after about a week of positivity, you don’t feel more confident. In many ways, you feel more confused.

Building self-confidence isn’t a formulaic process––it’s an individual process. It has to feel right and comfortable. It should fit like sweatpants, not skinny jeans. This means that, if we want to improve ourselves, we have to know and accept ourselves.

If you’re tired of decorating your home with inspirational quotes or adding one more self-help book to your collection, this article is for you. I’ll give you the six practical tips that you need to build self-confidence and self-acceptance. Let’s get you started on this journey.

1. Accept Who You Are

You will never receive enough applause or accolades that will make up for your insecurity. If you want to build self-confidence, then you need to own who you are and learn to stand up tall in your shoes before adding more accessories to your personality. After all, confidence is not about being the most decorated; it’s about being comfortable in your skin.

If you want to build self-confidence, then you need to take the time to celebrate your distinct personality. Take a moment to learn about your strengths and your weaknesses, and be at peace with where you are––even if it’s not where you want to be.

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Self-confidence starts with accepting yourself––your strengths, weaknesses, and even your quirks. In many ways, it requires you to embrace your entire being. In essence, it’s giving the world your whole self and asking for nothing in return.

2. Accept That You Will Be Terrified (and That’s OK)

We all remember spelling bees when we were kids. We would listen intently and pray that we wouldn’t forget all the letters. As we uttered our guesses, our knees knocked, our peers stared, and sweat beat down upon our brow. This moment was torture––for everyone. It was terrifying having to stand in front of our entire classroom and scramble letters in rows.

Self-confidence isn’t a cure to fear. It’s not a unique combination of pixie dust that makes us invisible to conflict or struggle. In many ways, fear is the only way to experience self-confidence. Isn’t that great news? Okay, it’s not the most fantastic news, but it is comforting.

Think about it. If you want to get that promotion, you have to face your fear. If you audition for the lead on Broadway, you have to belt out Aida, even if you voice cracks. All of these moments are glorious because of fear. If there was nothing to face––no barrier to climb––then you would never experience the joy of success.

Self-confidence occurs when we embrace the fear and allow it to compel us forward.

3. Make Peace With Your Past

Take a moment to stand still and look back. Where you are now is not where you were––and that is a powerful thing.

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There’s something powerful about perusing through old photographs. We might cringe over our fashion choices and laugh at our crazy hairdos. However, we also experience the nostalgia of going back in time. For better or for worse, we can’t escape our journey when trying to reach our goal.

If you want to build self-confidence, you need to be willing to accept your past, even the parts that you want to forget. You might want to burn the negatives and forge ahead, but to move forward, you have to find peace with your past and your present.

Self-confidence is not pretending or performing––it’s making peace with who you were, who you are, and who you will become. In many ways, it’s accepting your experiences, taking responsibility for your mistakes, and figuring out how to move forward with healthy habits.

4. Be Happy for Others

One of the most significant ways to build your self-confidence is to celebrate someone else and take the pressure off yourself. Bask in the excitement of a friend or a colleague.

We all want to be happy for those around us, but it’s easy to be jealous. Sometimes popping another bottle of champagne for a friend seems like a monotonous chore.

If you struggle to celebrate others, you’re not alone. You’re not selfish; you’re self-conscious, and there’s a big difference. It’s impossible to applaud your friends or your colleagues when you can’t even accept the person staring back at you each morning.

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Many of us were raised in households to believe that accepting our strengths means being prideful. We learned to shy away from the spotlight and refuse credit for a job well done. There’s nothing wrong with being reserved, but if your preference for privacy projects upon those around you. You’re not humble; you’re raining on someone else’s parade.

Allow people around you to shine, and be their biggest fan. When you lift others, you celebrate their strengths without judging their weaknesses. When we take the time to be happy for those around us, it helps us celebrate our own victories build self-confidence.

5. Be Willing to Put in the Work

If you’re hoping to absorb and build self-confidence through the pages of another bestseller, I have one word of advice for you: put the book down and grab those weights, run on the treadmill, or lean into that stretch.

Here’s the deal: Self-confidence isn’t easy; it takes work. It doesn’t come in a Flintstone vitamin; it comes through sweat.

Building self-confidence requires everyone to workout, but not everyone will be working out the same way or at the same pace. Remember, building self-confidence is not about beating the competition. It’s about accepting who you are, improving yourself, and learning to trust in your knowledge and capabilities.

6. Don’t Let Your Childhood Scars Write Your Story

All of us have childhood scars, but we don’t have to carry them with us as adults. Even if you had a perfect childhood, your self-confidence was influenced by your personal experience.

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No one can claim your story, but all of us can empathize with some form of childhood struggle.

Our childhood experiences have influenced our psyche, our self-perception, and our ability to build self-confidence[1]. However, if we’re willing to see ourselves holistically, we’ll be able to live our lives authentically. It’s important to understand your journey as much as your goal.

Take a moment and write down everything that comes to mind when you receive compliments. Do you dismiss them? Do you base your entire self-worth on them? Write down your reactions and then process the reasoning behind your response.

You can do this exercise with a therapist, a trusted friend, or even on your own. If you’re willing to go back in your past and address your scars, you’ll be able to have a greater understanding of yourself and not be rocked by compliments or criticisms.

When you’re grounded in who you are, you’ll be able to experience life without fear and, ultimately, write your own story with self-confidence.

Final Thoughts

If you want to build self-confidence, remember that it’s a process. Don’t hurry to the finish line to get to the end of the race. If you take the time to accept yourself, fail forward, embrace the journey, and give yourself grace along the way, you’ll have everything you need to be more self-confident.

Take today and figure out who you are and who you want to be, and don’t lose your identity in the process. If you utilize these tools, you won’t have to fake it till you make it––you can make it without losing yourself along the way.

More Tips on Being Self-Confident

Featured photo credit: Etty Fidele via unsplash.com

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