Psychology Today says many of us aren’t good at saying “No.” The problem is guilt and fear of conflict. This can create conflict and stress at work and at home. How can you say the “No” word and not feel guilty? This blog will give you some concrete steps that will make you more comfortable when saying no at work and at home.

Why You Can’t Seem to Say No

There are strongly rooted psychologies that reside in our inability to say no. Saying no means we might disappoint someone. Say you’re at work and your boss wants you to stay late to work on a project. But you feel overloaded and really need to get some rest. Your mind can race at this point. Will your boss think less of you? You don’t want to disappoint her or seem less than dedicated. Do you give in so they won’t be disappointed?

Having a conflict around saying no starts in childhood. We are taught to listen to authority and do what we’re told. But we also go along because we want to please and be loved by our parents. As we get older, saying no may mean we’re different from our peers that go along. Saying no can be a rebel move, requiring real bravery when you’re in a peer pressure situation.

Interestingly, women have a more difficult time saying no because they don’t want to rock the boat. How can you get better at saying no? Are there words you can use that make saying no a little easier?

How to Learn to Say No

Psychology Today suggests some exercises to improve your ability to say no, including:

  • Practice the “no” in small situations first, like skipping happy hour with a group of coworkers.
  • Take a deep breath when you’re asked to do something and pause for a moment before automatically saying yes. This gives you the space to maybe, this time, say no instead.
  • Learn to ignore the “everyone else,” a common tactic by someone trying to talk you into something you don’t want to do.
  • Say, “Let me think about that and get back to you.” This is a great stalling tactic that allows you the space to weigh your answer.

Fast Company suggests, instead of using the phrase, “I can’t,” say, “I don’t.” Saying I can’t make it tonight leads to the inevitable question, “Oh no, why? Everyone else will be there.”

Changing one key phrase allows you to draw a line in the sand about what you will and will not do. Instead, try, “I don’t go to happy hour during the week.” Or, “I don’t really bowl,” or, “I don’t have the bandwidth right now to take that on.”

Sometimes you can’t say no because you’re in a work environment where that simply isn’t allowed. But is that the right environment for you? Stellar Staffing works with job candidates to match them to top employers. Talk with our team today about how we can help you find the right work environment to fit your goals.

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