7 Ways to Say “No” to Demands for Your Time (Part 2)

by | Jul 1, 2014 | Real Estate Moms

  1. Be direct and brief.
    A good “No” statement should be 2-4 short sentences. Empathize with the request, state your reason for saying “No,” and (if you mean it) offer to help at another time. For example: “Painting a house can be a huge task—I can see why you need help. I have other plans that weekend, but feel free to ask next time.” It’s not necessary to tell them what your plans are. And it’s OK—really—if those plans involve indulging yourself in some down time.2. Be honest.
    People respect honesty. Likewise, excuses can backfire. If you tell a friend, “I’d love to help but I’m just not very good at painting,” your friend may protest that it doesn’t matter if you’re good at it, she just needs you to slap paint on some walls. You may find yourself in a long, uncomfortable battle. Try this instead: “I’d love to help you but I really hate painting. When you’re ready to hang wallpaper, give me a call.”3. Don’t give a reason.
    It’s perfectly OK to say “No” without giving a reason. Try it: “I’m sorry. I’m not available to help you out this time. Try me next time.”4. Give them a choice. 
    “In order to help with editing this letter, I need to free up some time. Would you rather I help you edit this letter or help you prepare for your garage sale?” Best of all, this technique enables you to help with what’s most important to your friend rather than being the go-to person for every single need. (Of course, this only works if you’ve already agreed to help with something else.)

    5. Exchange favors. 
    Think about what you need help with and propose that you help each other: “Sure, I can help you paint on Saturday if you’ll edit a proposal for me.” If you can’t exchange help, explain that you need time to finish your work.

    6. Set limits. 
    If you’re willing to help but don’t want to commit to the full request, set limits: “Yes, I can help you paint your house on Saturday, but I’m only available from 12.00 to 2.00. See you then!” (This tip works for money requests, too: “I’d love to contribute to Jon’s going-away gift, but since I don’t know him very well, I’ll contribute $5 instead of $10.”)

    7. Empower them. 
    When people ask for help because they don’t know how to do something, offer to teach them so they can do it themselves next time. Keep in mind that teaching someone how to do something on their own can take more time and energy, though, so use this tactic wisely: “You know, I learned how to back up my computer files pretty easily. How about if I teach you how and walk you through it, so you’ll know for yourself?”


    Don’t trust yourself to give in when faced with your best friend’s pleading eyes? Stall. Practice this sentence: “I want to help you but I don’t know if I’m available. Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” Then before you get back to them, practice one of the 7 Ways to Say “No” and stick to your guns. Eventually, you’ll feel so comfortable valuing your own time you won’t need to stall.

    Extreme Honesty 

    Here is the ultimate way to be honest when you say “No:” “I’ve noticed I’ve been over-obligating myself recently. It’s not good for me, so I’m choosing to do less. I hope you understand. I care about you, and I’m interested in what you’re doing. However, I won’t be volunteering this time.” Your friends will not only understand, but they may also follow in your footsteps. (If they don’t understand, consider whether it’s worth the effort to remain friends with them.)

    Get Started Today

    Start practicing now. You’ll feel a difference within just a few weeks. You’ll be devoting time to your family, your partner, your friends, and your career without sacrificing yourself. Moreover, you’ll be setting an example for your children so they can grow up knowing how to value their time and stand up for themselves.

    Yara Nielsenshultz of Living Forward Coaching helps working moms find guilt-free time for themselves by helping them create, nurture, and implement an inspiring vision for who they want to be. Yara brings a unique perspective to coaching, encouraging clients to foster a Deliberate Imbalance(TM). Learn more atwww.livingforwardcoaching.com.


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