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5 Ways To Say “No”

5 Ways To Say “No”

We’ve all been there. You’re facing a week of tight deadlines and back to back meetings, when someone you like asks for your last minute help on a crucial project. Whether you’re in a hurry, surprised, trying to be agreeable, or simply underestimate your current obligations, saying yes to projects we can’t complete is damaging. And no matter how much we know we need to, saying no still fails to get easier. Because delaying too long or saying no at the last minute can harm relationships and opportunities, saying no effectively is a critical skill to learn. Most of us feel guilty and anxious when forced to turn something down. It’s important to remember, however, that rejecting a request is not the same as rejecting the person. While we all feel a desire to be accepted by our peers, this desire should not overpower our decisions in life. The following five approaches will make it easier for you to confidently say no, without sacrificing good relationships. 

Wait 

A simple way to start saying no is to impose a waiting period on yourself. If you feel your life is over scheduled, force yourself to wait 6, 12, or 24 hours after being asked before committing to anything new. This way you have something to say should someone ask for your help, and you also have a minute to yourself to decide what’s really important. Saying something like, “I’m waiting to hear if a few projects are confirmed, I can let you know as soon as possible” is direct, and it will give you time to consider the project.

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Filter Commitments

The best way to say no is to narrow down which activities or commitments you are least invested in. Take into account which responsibilities you agreed to first, then pick one or two that you simply don’t have time for. Saying no at first can be challenging. But by saying no to a few things you genuinely won’t be able to fit in, it can be easier to stick to your guns. Plus, you allow yourself the time and space to complete your other commitments with one hundred percent attention. Once you have some practice considering what you don’t need or can’t include in life, it will be easier to say no right when someone asks for your help and you’re overstretched.

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Minimize Excuses

Once you have said no, minimize any excuses you might use. You are never required to have proof that you’re busy and working hard on other things. If you don’t give excuses, you leave less room for interpretation. In addition to that, you don’t give the person another chance to ask you. Be direct, and stick to your decision. If the person pushes, just say that you simply have too much on your plate, but thank them for the opportunity.

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Minimize Work Intrusions

Once you’re more comfortable saying no out of necessity, try to minimize unnecessary work commitments (if your position allows). Some meetings don’t require you to be there, and could give you an hour or two to work on other valuable projects. State firmly and directly that you are overbooked. It’s also okay to give yourself time away from emails when you’re not at work. Don’t forget that letting your boss know you’d like to get your current projects right can actually work in your favor.

Find Your Boundaries

As you use the first four steps to say no in your life, you’ll start to figure out exactly where your limits are. As you discover how many things you can comfortably juggle, you’ll be able to better define your boundaries. You should quickly be better able to recognize when you start to feel over scheduled, and it is crucial to listen to this feeling. After applying these approaches, you’ll know where your limit is, so set boundaries at those limits and stick to them. Though saying no is a challenge at first, it is worthwhile to stay the course. Saying no lets you perform at a better level, and will ultimately make you a happier person.

Featured photo credit: smlp.co.uk via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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