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Published on November 24, 2020

How to Say No Politely And Professionally

How to Say No Politely And Professionally

Do you find that you have a hard time saying “no” when something is asked of you? I felt like this for most of my life and still fight the urge not to immediately blurt out “sure!” when someone asks me for their help. I could probe under my mental hood for why I have this innate inclination to say yes but at the end of the day, it’s simply part of who I am. I know I have a lot of company in feeling this way.

There’s a whole plethora of books and reading material on how to say no to the many things asked of us in life. Many of us are raised in such a manner that we feel we should always be helping others. That we should always be willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible. And many of us are taught that to get ahead in our work life, we should be willing to “do what it takes” and take on additional responsibilities.

You have to work hard to get to the top of your profession. And these things are true to a point. It’s when we always say yes to things that are asked of us that we risk burnout and overcommitting ourselves. With that let’s look at how to say no politely and professionally.

Why Saying Yes all the Time Isn’t a Good Thing

There’s a well-used term for people that say yes to everyone and everything. It’s called being a people-pleaser. And I was a world class people-pleaser. It’s not bad, of course, to help out when asked to or pitch in when needed. The problem arises when you say yes to everything.

In short, you realize you are living your life for others and not for yourself. Saying yes to everyone all the time can lead to some bad long term issues.

Resentment

One of the worst things that come from saying yes all the time is a growing feeling of resentment towards others. When your friend who never does his homework asks you yet again for your notes, how does that make you feel when you slide them over to him?

One time, I was training a new person on my team. I showed them how to do something. And then I showed them again. And again. After a few months, I realized I was doing a ton of this person’s work simply because they asked for my help again, claiming they didn’t quite get it.

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When I realized what was going on, I told them it was time they figured it out on their own. I woke up to how resentful I was to be working with someone who took my kindness and turned it into a way for them to do less work.

Mentally and Physically Fatigued

Something else that commonly happens when we say yes all the time is we become fatigued, both mentally and physically. If you have to lose sleep in order to check everything off your to do list and a lot of that is for other people, you’re going to wind up getting more and more tired.

I know from experience when I am trying to tackle too much, I have a hard time sleeping because I can’t shut my brain off. I can’t turn it off because I keep thinking about everything I have to take care of, much of it not impacting my own life. This is taxing to say the least.

Not Your Life Anymore

When we wind up doing more than we should for other people, we wind up not working on our own lives as much as we should.

We can get to the point of feeling like we aren’t even living our lives because we are paying too much attention and time on things that are important in other people’s lives. This is not a good place to be in at all.

An extreme example of this is someone that is taking care of another person who can’t take care of themselves for one reason or another. Of course, we want to be there for our loved ones when they need our help. That said, when one person has to take care of another for an extended period, it can feel like the person tending doesn’t have their own life any longer.

Losing Boundaries

One of the best ways to get to a place of how to say no politely and professionally is to establish boundaries. Boundaries are something I learned about later than I would have liked to but once you discover them, it’s a very freeing feeling to establish them in your life.

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Boundaries are essentially something you create in order to live the type of life you want to. It’s sort of like a set of guidelines that you have set in your life. From time to time, you share them with others depending on the situation.

Some examples may include working no more than 45 hours in a week at your job, or not staying in an unhealthy relationship. We typically learn to set our boundaries when something happens in our lives that makes us say ‘I don’t want that situation again.” Here’s a few examples of my boundaries:

I bought a truck several years ago. Almost immediately, people began to ask me help them move something. Which of course, I did at first. Once it got to a point where I was helping people numerous times a week, I decided I would help someone with my truck once every two weeks and only at a time that was convenient for me.

I enjoy having a full life. That said, I don’t like my life to be full with just my day job. Therefore, I limit the number of hours worked per week in my day job to 45. If the number of things on my plate take up more than 45 hours, and they almost always do, I prioritize working on what’s important first and foremost.

Now, let’s find out how to say no politely and professionally in order to keep our sanity.

How To Say No Politely and Professionally

The key to saying no politely and professionally is to frame the “No” in different manners so you’re not just awkwardly staring back at someone and then mumbling a “I can’t do it”.

There’s different ways to say no to various people you interact with in a way that works for you, and still be polite and respectful towards the other person. Here’s a few to consider.

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To Your Boss

Saying no to your boss can be intimidating. And unless you enjoy eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your desk, sometimes you will reach a point where you have to tell your boss thanks but no thanks.

To your boss, you want to paint the picture that you are honored to have been considered for the additional work, but other priorities will make that not possible right now. Something along the lines of:

“I really appreciate you thinking of me for this project. Currently I was planning on spending this week/month on projects X,Y, and Z. As I recall those were high priorities”.

“Wow, thanks so much for bringing this to me. Right now I have a full load working on project X & Y. Would you prefer I set aside that work and spend my time on this new project instead?”

To Your Colleagues

I love helping out my colleagues and really appreciate their help from time to time as well. However, sometimes I am not able to lend a helping hand due to the workload I have at the moment. In this case, you’ll want to keep it pretty close to the truth whenever possible.

“That’s a very exciting initiative to be heading up Brian, you must be stoked! Thanks for asking for my help with the survey piece of it. Truth be told, this is not what I’d consider an area of strength for me, I’d probably slow things down. Lisa is pretty good at those, you might ask her”.

“You know I normally love doing this type of work Beth and I really appreciate you asking for my help with the layout part of it. Unfortunately, the timing isn’t good, our boss Mark has me working on a presentation to the ELT for next week”.

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To Your Clients

Saying no to a client can be tough. After all, they are the ones paying you. The main thing here is to make sure your client feels heard and understood. Once you fully listen to their input or want, share with them how you are addressing this very issue from another angle.

“You know Bob, I completely get what you are saying and couldn’t agree more. I was thinking that we would be able to address the 36-45 age range when we highlight the positive results in compound XYZ”.

“Karen that is great, I appreciate you pointing that out and bringing it up to make sure we address it. Mandy on the team has been looking into that as well, I’ll ask her to share her thoughts on what she has discovered in our meeting on Thursday”.

In Your Personal Life

With people in your personal life, it’s best to say no and the reason why. Maybe you’ve already got something else planned, or it could be you just don’t want to. Of course, you want to be respectful of people’s feelings; but with your closer, more personal relationships, it’s best to be honest about why you are saying no.

One of my rules to help keep me on the path of not always saying yes is that I am always happy to help someone, providing they are doing the main work. After all, someone is asking me for my help in their life, so they should be the one doing the heavy lifting.

This has come up in many situations. When my oldest daughter would complain about not having any money, I’d offer to help her make a budget. She would need to set a time and place and I’d be happy to help her. When someone has asked me to help them move something with my truck, of course I’m happy to help – here is when I am available: You want me to help you in the yard? Sure I can certainly do that. However I am not available today, I already have things planned.

Bottom Line

With a little luck, you’ve learned something about how to say no politely and professionally. Helping others out from time to time is great, it’s nice to know that you can count on others when needed and visa versa. It helps us feel connected and part of something greater than ourselves.

Unfortunately, it can become too easy to say yes to too many requests for help. This can lead to resentment and burnout. When someone asks for your help, take a moment to consider if it’s something you genuinely want to do and can do, or if it’s better to say no politely and professionally.

More About the Art of Saying No

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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