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Stop Being a Pushover: Learn To Say No in 10 Steps

Stop Being a Pushover: Learn To Say No in 10 Steps

When I was a child, I never wanted to say no to anyone. I was so eager to please, I found myself agreeing to things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to be around. By the time I graduated from high school, I realized I needed to take a stand and live my own life. I started by flaking out on things, and quickly realized that’s a terrible way to be. Instead I adjusted my perspective and took the steps necessary to learn to say no. Here are 10 steps you can take to stop being a pushover and learn to say no.

1. Prioritize your life

    You need to get your priorities straight immediately. What’s important to you? Write out a list of the 10 long-term goals you most want to accomplish in your life. This makes it easier to make decisions, because you’re basing them on your priorities. When you’re focused on your priorities, you’ll be too busy not to turn down offers.

    2. Envision a path

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      In HBO’s new show Silicon Valley, protagonist Richard Hendricks’ biggest problem is he doesn’t have a vision for his company. This lack of vision is the catalyst for the first season’s plotlines, as investors are excited by his technology, but they all demand to know his vision for the future before they’ll trust him. Series creator Mike Judge hit on an important point. You need a vision of your future in order to reach it.

      3. Stay succinct

        When telling someone no, simply saying no is enough. You don’t need to go any further into reasons why. Simply tell them you’re not interested. High pressure salespeople will prod for more information to keep you talking so they can sway you, but there’s no need to waste any time when you know you’re going to turn them down anyway. Instead of arming your opponent with knowledge, just say no.

        4. Repeat a mantra

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          When you have advanced warning that you’re going to be presented with an undesirable proposition, you have time to prepare yourself. Repeat over and over in your head that you are not going to ____. Even if you don’t have advanced notice, it’s not a bad idea to remind yourself of the things you don’t want to do every so often in case you are. Never forget yourself.

          5. Assert yourself

            Be assertive when telling someone no. If they push, assert your position. As a human being, you have the freedom of choice. Rather than relinquishing that power to someone else, exercise your right to choose your own adventure. At the end of the day, you’re the one that has to live with your decisions, so choose what’s right for you.

            6. Focus on the positive

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              Just because you’re rejecting someone doesn’t mean you have to be rude or cruel about it. There’s no need to tell someone you’re not interested because it’s a terrible idea. Tell them it sounds great, but you’re busy. When you focus on the positive aspects, you’ll maintain the appearance of friendliness while still pursuing your own agenda.

              7. Don’t fear the outcome

                The world won’t end if you tell someone no. They may or may not be upset with you, but it’s not your problem to worry about. Has anyone ever told you no? Did they hold your hand through the entire thing? If it’s not happening to you, you don’t need to do it for anyone else. We’re all adults, and we can handle rejection. Don’t fear rejecting anyone–focus on you.

                8. Avoid being defensive

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                  It can be easy to get on the defensive when rejecting someone. You may feel like you need to defend your stance, but you don’t. Once you’ve said no, it’s over; end of transaction. Don’t defend your choices to anyone. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone.

                  9. Stick to your guns

                    Once you’ve said no, stick to it. Don’t let yourself be persuaded. You don’t want people to think you’re a pushover; it’s viewed as a sign of weakness, and some unscrupulous person is bound to take advantage. Pick a lane and stick to it. You’ll be happier in the long run.

                    10. Practice

                      Like everything else in life, saying no requires practice. Start with little things, like the times you already say no. After you order at a restaurant, for example, they ask if there’s anything else you need. Your server will also come by the table a few times while you’re eating to ask if you need anything. You’re likely saying no to these people without even realizing it. Use that momentum to say no to others.

                      Featured photo credit: John Y via therecoveringpolitician.com

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                      Last Updated on July 13, 2020

                      How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                      How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                      Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

                      If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

                      1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

                      The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

                      Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

                      For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

                      The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

                      2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

                      Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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                      As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

                      Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

                      3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

                      Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

                        This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

                        We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

                        Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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                        When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

                        Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

                        4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

                        Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

                        For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

                        Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

                        5. Make Decisions

                        For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

                        If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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                        If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

                        Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

                        I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

                        This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

                        The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

                        6. Take Some Form of Action

                        Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

                        The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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                        It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

                        Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

                        When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

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                        Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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