We’ve all been there–a coworker, a friend, or an organization approaches you and asks if you can do something: “Can you host the XYZ meetup tonight?” You want to say, “Yes! of course!” because who doesn’t want to be helpful? But I know what you’re thinking… “Ugh, really, another thing? Fine, I’ll cancel going to my child’s performance tonight… I guess…”
Oftentimes, the best thing for everyone is to say “no.”
Why Say No
You are are a helpful person, right? So what’s the problem? The problem is overcommitment–taking on too much generally means doing a poor job for everyone.
Here are three reasons to say no:
- It’s better for the other party – now you’ve avoided letting someone else down.
- It’s better for yourself – and now you’ve avoided taking on extra stress and letting yourself down.
- It feels good – last but not least, it just plain feels great to know you’ve retained control of your own commitments.
Know Your Limits
Ultimately, taking on commitments is about knowing how much you can handle, as well as what you should be handling. We all need to take care of at least something, but too much is definitely worse than too little. Toe the line with your commitments, and over time, you’ll understand where your limits are. And then you’ll be performing best for everyone.
Here are a few additional resources that can help in saying no:
- A Pinterest page with all kinds of clever ways to say no
- Julie Zhou’s thoughts on saying no to bad ideas
- Shawn Blanc’s experience report about “taking ownership of [his] time and attention”
I hope the above is helpful!