Learn How To Say NO - And Stay Liked!

7 NO Lessons For Your Life Coaching Clients

Here's how to coach your clients how to say NO elegantly to things they don't want to do or get involved in, without causing offense or burning their bridges.

Do you know how to refuse a request? Of course you do. NO is a simple word. But do you have trouble saying NO to the numerous requests that come your way and take your time?

Learning how to say no can mean saying 'maybe' more often.

Then at the end of a well-planned week you find you have said YES so often to the needs of others and have done very little of what you really wanted to get done for yourself.

In all types of life coaching situations being able to educate clients on the importance of being able to say NO nicely is vital.

So lets' discuss some ways of how to say NO to yourself (yes yourself) and others, avoid overwhelm and up your refusal skills.

Don't know how to say no?
Try these strategies

There are ways of saying NO that can put the requester offside. And there are ways of saying NO so elegantly to requests, that the requester does not even realize they have been refused.

Learn  how to say no positively

Time to learn some good ways to say NO. And when you've read my tips it's worth taking a look at  William Ury's book Positive NO.

1. Take your time before answering a request 'Yes' or 'No':
So you've come to the conclusion that saying yes to the request is NOT  the way to go. It’s time to practice how to say NO graciously and without giving offense.

If the response “YES” to a request is automatic for you, practice stalling for time by substituting it with something like “I’m not sure if that will work, can I get back to you in a couple of hours/days?”

2. Give the right impression:
Be careful not to give the impression that your answer will be most likely be yes so the person asking goes away feeling it is already a done deal.

They will then feel more let down and maybe annoyed if it turns out to be NO. Keep your tone neutral and non-committal,  or even veer on the side of a refusal. This 'get back to you' time will allow you to ponder on the following questions and make a wise decision:

  • What is the real benefit I will get personally/professionally if I agree to do this (especially if it is a voluntary project)?  How important is it to me?
  • How will doing this extra task affect my focus on doing the really important things I need to do to achieve other important tasks, goals and outcomes?
  • If I agree to this, will I be giving up precious time that could be spent on my goals, with my family or on leisure activities and renewing my energy?

These questions are about making it OK to have your needs and what you want to do, at least as important as the needs and requests of others.

3. Here are some more strategies for mastering saying No elegantly:

  • 'I'd love to help you and I’m really busy'.
    Ask them to tell you about the project and say that if you think can of something or someone who can help, you'll get back to them.
  • 'It just doesn’t work for me to do that now, but can I suggest…’
    (and come up with someone else who may be able to help).
    If asked why it doesn’t work, avoid getting drawn into a long explanation which could lead to counter arguments and your giving in and saying YES.
    Keep repeating 'It really just doesn’t work for me right now'.
  • I’d love to help but I have a lot on at the moment' 
    Then firmly explain you really couldn’t do justice to what is needed.

4. Overloaded at work?
It can seem almost impossible to know how to Say NO in a work situation, especially if you are really good at juggling multiple tasks.

These strategies may help you say NO and avoid overwhelm and burnout.

Learn how to say no diplomatically to avoid overwhelm at work.

Say something like, 'I can’t see how I can fit this in for when you want it in addition to what you have already requested. Where would you prefer I direct my attention?'

5. Delegate responsibility:
If you are working for more than one person, and they all want to be your priority, throw the decision of what is the most important back to them too sort out the priorities and if necessary deletate to someone else.

I once worked in a PR company as a secretary to two of the busiest consultants who always wanted everything first and  in a hurry.

There were other consultants not nearly as busy and their secretaries would often sit reading and knitting whilst I was in overwhelm often working through my lunch hour.

Yes, the other secretaries could have offered to help, but they didn't, and in those days, I didn't have the skills or the confidence to stand up for myself and say NO elegantly or insist I got some help.

6. When You Really Want to Say Yes - But Not Over-commit:
Sometimes you are asked to do something you would really like to get involved with but don’t have the time. When this happens, suggest or ask how you can contribute in a way that works for you in the time you want to commit. This will keep you involved but on your terms.

7. Be sympathetic but firm:
In all your newly acquired ways of how to say NO, be sympathetic but firm. Don’t over apologize for your NO. Show empathy for their situation but in a way that lets them know your mind will not be changed.

In summary...

The bottom line is that learning to say NO confidently can move you forward towards having work life balance and achieving your goals faster than saying YES to everything.

Finally, if you find the idea of saying NO to someone in a particular work or relationship situation sends you into a tizz and makes you anxious, then it could be time to assess whether this is an environment or relationship that really works for you to stay in.

Learning how to say no is just one of the strategies in my book Be Your Own Goals Coach to help you and your coaching clients achieve their goals faster and with less stress.

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