Some people find it difficult to say no when a request is made of them.
Here is my shy person’s dilemma.
The professional group I belong to puts on great programs. Nice people attend. I always learn something. So why do I dread attending?
At the end of every meeting one or another of the officers takes me aside and asks me to be on the Board. They point out that I attend regularly, seem to know everyone and have good ideas for the future.
“You seem to understand how to do marketing so maybe you could be the PR head?”
I smile politely and try to step away.
I know. I know. I should step out into the community and get more involved. But I don’t want to be on another board right now. My business is booming. Every minute away from the business and my clients seems like a distraction. Besides, I think I have finally found a good work / life balance.
How do I say no?
Right now I just mumble something under my breath and excuse myself to get a fresh drink or talk to someone else. That feels wrong. I am avoiding the opportunity to say no.
Saying no is a blessing. It can be an opportunity. Just like saying yes more often can open new horizons you never thought to explore, saying no can be an opportunity to focus.
Sometimes you just have to say no. Even shy people.
Here are some tips to saying no:
- Be true to yourself. Know what you want so you can fairly evaluate the request. Perhaps you should say yes.
- Give the request a bit of consideration before saying no. This avoids hurt feelings. You don’t want people to think you blew them off but you do want to control your time. This doesn’t mean saying, “I’ll think about it” then never getting back. This means pausing for a moment as if you are considering it then saying no.
- Once you decide, make it short and sweet. Say it fast and clear with a smile on your face. Then shut up. The more you blather about with excuses, the weaker your “no” sounds, leaving room for the other person to press you to change your mind.
- Plan your response in advance so you know what to say when the opportunity comes. In fact, you can plan a generic response to have handy if you need it. Something like, “Thank you for the consideration but I am simply buried right now.” Then shut up.
- Be as nice as you can. Have a pleasant but concerned smile on your face when you say it. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so take the high road and be nice.
- Package your “no” with some flattery. “I am honored that you would consider me for this important role. I really appreciate your consideration but…”
- Offer another alternative. Is there something else you can do for the organization / person other than what was asked? “I would love to support your organization in a different way.”
- Change the subject or walk away to end the conversation. This might avoid that awkward shock when the other person expected you to say yes.
I will be testing these ideas myself the next time I go to that professional meeting. In the meantime, let me know if these tips helped bring you peace!
Here are some helpful references:
3 ways to nicely say no without feeling guilty – this article has great examples!