If you have trouble saying “no” to other people’s requests — and subsequently find yourself wrangled into activities that don’t interest you, or that fill your schedule and prevent you from focusing on your priorities — perhaps it’s just because you don’t know the right way to say it. Here you go!
if you really want to help but don’t have time, say so
offer to help at a later time or date
if they can’t wait for you, they’ll find someone else
people often ask for help because they doubt their own abilities
let them know that you have confidence they will succeed
you are actually doing them a favor in the long run
if you aren’t available to help out, offer another qualified resource
helping to connect people is a valuable service to offer
make sure the person you refer will represent you well
be honest if your schedule is filled
“filled” doesn’t have to mean really filled
know when you are scheduled as much as you are willing and stop
life isn’t about drudgery — if you don’t enjoy it, why do it?
don’t be afraid to let someone know you just don’t want to
someone else is bound to enjoy the work you don’t
it doesn’t matter what the commitment is
it can even simply be time to yourself or with friends or family
you don’t have to justify — you simply aren’t available
volunteering shouldn’t mean learning an entirely new set of skills
suggest that they find someone who has experience in that area
offer to help out with something that you already know how to do
often, you have to focus your energies on a work-related task
you may have to give up some civic or community duties
if you don’t do it, someone else will take on the task
don’t be ashamed of wanting to spend time with your family
having a strong family is an important priority in and of itself
be willing to put your personal needs first
let people know that you want to do a good job for them
but you can’t when your focus is too divided or splintered
you will be more effective if you focus on one project at a time
it’s okay to be selfish — in a good way!
treat your personal time like any other appointment
block off time in your calendar and guard it with your life
know when you aren’t going to be able to deliver a quality product
the reason doesn’t matter — not enough time, wrong skills, etc.
whatever the reason is enough for turning a request down
saying no doesn’t mean that you can’t help at all
if someone asks you to do something you really despise, refuse
then offer to help with something you find more enjoyable
let people know when you have accepted other responsibilities
no need to make excuses if you don’t have any free time
no one will fault you for having already filled your plate
you might be uncomfortable with any of a number of issues
the people involved, the type of work, the morale implications, etc.
this is a very respectful way to avoid a sticky situation
you aren’t saying that you will never help out again
just that you feel your schedule is as full as you would like now
understanding your limits is a talent to be expected
if you don’t feel that you have adequate skills, that’s okay
it’s better to admit your limitations up front
the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed down the road
unexpected things happen that throw your schedule off
accept that you may need to make a few adjustments
it is temporary and you will have more time when life stabilizes
it’s okay to admit your limitations
knowing what you can handle and what you can’t is a skill
your time will be more efficiently spent on something you do well
sometimes it’s okay to just say no!
just say it in a way that expresses respect and courtesy
leave the door open for good relationsClick here for reuse options!
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.
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