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7 Ways To Set Boundaries Without Being Mean

7 Ways To Set Boundaries Without Being Mean

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.”

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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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