On day 243 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored saying no as an act of self-care.
We always have a choice. How we spend our time, money and energy reflects our values, but sometimes it also reflects our ability (or inability) to set boundaries.
In their book Boundaries*, authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend explain that boundaries are words that “let people know where you stand and thus give them a sense of the “edges” that help identify you.” In that way, boundaries are a lot like your personal brand.
Have you ever wanted to say no to someone or something, but couldn’t muster the courage because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings? Or because you felt obligated to say yes? I’ve learned to trust my intuition when I’m faced with a request that doesn’t quite feel right.
But communicating that decision to another person can be difficult.
Yesterday, I was faced with a request that I knew deep down was not a good fit. It conflicted with some of my core values and beliefs, and I knew that further conversations about it would have been futile. That’s not to say that I’m closed off to new ideas, or that I refuse to change my mind about what I believe. It simply means this opportunity wasn’t right for me.
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So how do you say no without sounding rude? It’s tricky.
I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between being honest and being rude. The former, something I think most of us aspire to be from a character standpoint, seems easy enough. You honestly say out loud what you’re thinking in your head, but in a kind way. Honesty is the best policy, after all. But sometimes the truth comes off as being sharp, even when that isn’t your intention. The word no carries a pinch that often feels personal, no matter what the circumstance.
But saying no is an act of self-care. Not only does it help protect you from investing time in something that isn’t constructive, it also helps your requester from doing the same. There have been many times I’ve wished someone would have said no to me. It would have saved us both precious time that could have been spent elsewhere. In a way, saying no is a gift to others when you know you aren’t the right person for the job.
If you’re looking for a polite way to say no, consider simply explaining that the timing isn’t good. That sends the message that the request isn’t aligned with your priorities without sounding harsh or impolite.
How do you say no?
Ready to learn when to say yes and how to say no?
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