Say 'yes' to saying 'no'

Say 'yes' to saying 'no'

Originally published in Balanced Life magazine

1. When you don’t actually want that seriously overpriced contouring palette
All you needed was mascara but, one pushy sales assistant later, you’ve blown your holiday savings on more make-up than Kim Kardashian knows what to do with. Practise saying this before you hit the cosmetics section: ‘No thank you. It looks wonderful, but all I really need today is XYZ…’

2. When that irresponsible friend asks to borrow your car
… because she wrote hers off last week. A good line here is, ‘I’m sorry, but I have a rule that I don’t lend anyone anything I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking them to replace.’ This softens the blow, since you’re not singling her out as someone you don’t trust.

3. When a man you have no interest in pesters you for a date
What he seems to think of as a cute battle of wills quickly becomes sexual harassment. Continue to say 'no', and tell your friends and family so they can keep an eye on the situation. 

4. When your boss adds to your already full workload
Saying ‘no’ at work is often the trickiest – you don’t want people thinking you’re not a team player. Find a way to get the message across that you are already at your capacity: ‘That sounds like an exciting opportunity. I’m finding that the so-and-so project is already keeping me busy all day. Would you prefer me to prioritise this rather?’ 

5. When you just want to stay home
You’re wrecked from a long week and an early night sounds way more enjoyable than the wine-fuelled dinner extravaganza your friends have planned. Politely decline, and don’t let anyone make you feel like a spoilsport – real friends will support your decision to practise self-care. 

6. When someone asks you to do something for free that you’d normally charge for
Making wedding cakes or proofreading dissertations ... people usually pay good money for your services. Try responding with, ‘I’d love to! Let’s find a time to sit down and talk about exactly what you need so I can quote accordingly.’ This says, in no uncertain terms, that you expect to be paid for your work.  

7. When a friend asks for a large loan
There are plenty of other ways you can be supportive, such as helping them to find a viable bank loan and drawing up a repayment plan.

8. When a stranger makes you uncomfortable
‘I locked myself out, do you mind if I come in and use your phone?’ There are plenty of ways criminals create their opportunities. As women, we’re taught to be polite – even when our internal red flags are up. Drop the act, trust your instincts and say 'no'. You can always apologise later if the person meant no harm. You can’t apologise if you’re dead.

9. When relatives treat your home like a free AirBnB
They come every year for the holidays, stay for what feels like forever, and never offer to chip in for groceries. But it’s family – you can’t say no, right? Wrong. Tell them that this year you just aren’t up to taking on the role of holiday hostess. Send them links to affordable accommodation nearby. You can still have quality time together without having to share a bathroom. 

10. Whenever you want to
Practice makes perfect. Every time you catch yourself about to say yes just to please another person, be honest and say no instead. What’s that? The world didn’t fall apart? Your friends are still around? You have a calmer, more centred existence? You’re welcome. 

When to say 'yes!'

  1. When you know you’re saying no purely out of fear of leaving your comfort zone.

  2. When brownies gets passed around. (Everything in moderation, after all…)

  3. When your child wants you to tuck them in. There are a finite number of these nights. Spreadsheets can wait.

Image by Jade Taylor Cooke

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