Productivity and GTD

Reasons and Tips to Say NO

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
Blog productivity

In many cases, not saying no becomes one of the greatest enemies of our productivity. This happens to everyone at some moments. We place the satisfaction of others in front of ours. We stop living our lives to live theirs. In extreme situations, we even get trapped in a vicious circle in which we have more and more things to do, many of them with no real value for us, and we reach a level of stress as high as unnecessary.

Why do we do that? There are many different reasons, some of them reasonable, others altruistic and, most of them, wrong:

  • We want to help. Some supposedly positive behaviors are confused with others supposedly negative. Refusing to do something is supposed to be selfish, while accepting is an act of kindness, generosity and empathy.
  • Fear of being rejected. We want to be liked by others so we seek their approval. We don’t want to be sidelined.
  • Respect for others. Sometimes we believe that, simply, that person doesn’t deserve a negative response.
  • Fear of confrontation. We want to avoid an unnecessary conflict and maintain a good atmosphere. We don’t want a relationship staggers as a result of a negative answer.
  • Guilt. We are often quite worried after saying no. We are constantly punishing ourselves for that decision, although it was perfectly logical.
  • Fear of losing opportunities. We believe that if we say no now, in the future we won’t be offered other things that may be interesting.

Ok, it’s not about to say no all the time, but we shouldn’t do things that aren’t worth it; it hurts us, literally. How can we deal with these situations? You can find motivation reading the following:

  1. You must be very clear on your commitments, knowing yourself and acting with integrity. Prepend your priorities, projects and personal interests. If what you are asked of has nothing to do with them, just say no.
  2. Value your time. Saying no to some things allows you to say yes to other things that are more interesting for you. If you show people you value your work, time and priorities, unlike you could think, you will be respected for that.
  3. If you accept everything you’re asked for, you won’t be yourself, you won’t grow as a person, you won’t improve.
  4. If a relationship with a person is impaired after a refusal, it wasn’t a sincere relationship, but interested. Don’t let people blackmail you. Also, think that someone who appreciates you never would ask you to do something that harms you.
  5. You can be generous, but you should prevent abuse. If what you’ve asked for is abusive, try to negotiate a balanced playing field before accepting, or just say no.
  6. Delay the decision if the terms are not clear enough. Tell them you need some time to think about it. You should find strong arguments for accepting the request.
  7. When you are saying no to someone, be polite but firm. Show that you respect their feelings and opinions. Establishing the limits from the beginning and expressing what you don’t like, will help you earn their respect.
  8. Don’t make excuses or the situation will be repeated constantly. You don’t even have to explain anything. You are the owner of your time.
  9. Before accepting something, think of its implications. How long it will take? How will it affect your work, family or personal life? What other projects are going to be sacrificed?

In short, you must learn to be assertive, to value yourself, to defend your rights and to seek relationships with good foundations.

Learning to say no is one of the greatest favors you can make yourself. It will reduce your workload and your stress level, and it will provide you time to do what you really care.

And the best way to learn to say no is doing it, so cheer up!

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