The Art of Saying No & How it Can Help Prevent Burnout and Fatigue
Are you a "yes man (or woman)"? Do you confuse "saying yes" with being a good person? Do you locate your worth and value in the qualities of being dependable, easy to work with, and accommodating?
If you are always saying yes regardless of the toll it takes on you to keep those commitments, you may be setting yourself up for fatigue that could lead to burnout.
No one wants to let others down, but it is a misconception to think that saying no is selfish or irresponsible. Being asked to take on a task by someone else is a request, not an order. If you are truly unable to help them, then there will be another solution out there for them to find.
There is an art to saying no and staying in a state of peace as you do it. Learning to gently say no and remain unharmed by the fallout of another's disappointment will ultimately keep your energy, sanity, and schedule protected for the important things you need to be able to say "yes" to.
Here are some Pro-Tips for the art of saying no and protecting yourself from burnout:
Know what you want to say yes to
If you are clear about what you are absolutely fine saying yes to, then it makes it easier to say no to the things that don't make you feel the same way. If you clearly love working with teens, it makes sense for you to say no to working with toddlers in the church nursery. If you love setting up spaces and have plenty of energy in the morning, it makes sense to say no to being the cleanup crew leader at midnight after a big event. Knowing your preferences makes it easy to decline what tasks aren't a good fit and will just wear you out.
Have a clear "no"
Just like knowing what you want makes it easier to say yes, there are things for everyone that are clear no's. These are the "never, ever, ever, going to happen" items. Deciding ahead of time which of these hard limits are on your list simplifies decision-making about your boundaries down to pre-written guidelines.
Ask for time to decide
If you are approached and asked to commit to something that isn't a clear yes for you, simply ask for time to decide. Ask for a specific amount of time to make your decision and weigh the pros and cons of the situation before saying yes. Asking for time to choose also gives you space to rehearse your no if that happens to be your final decision.
Practice a standard reply
Develop a standard reply that you know forwards and backwards that you can use when put on the spot to say yes to something. A simple, straightforward answer that puts the issue to rest can relieve you from taking on too much work. An example: "Thanks for asking me to be a part of your plan, but I'm not taking on any new commitments at the moment. Please ask again later, and perhaps I'll be able to help out next time."
Have a plan B to offer
If you love being part of the solution and can't bear the thought of saying no, see if you can offer up a "plan B" solution. Sometimes being a resource or a connection to someone is a perfect way to help out without personally having to do too much. Brainstorm ways to support or introduce a connection, and you are still helping in an important way.
Saying no is an art, and you can be masterful when you put some thought into when and how to say no with grace. Start small and build your confidence. Keep in mind that preserving your mental wellness and avoiding burnout is always better than making everyone else happy at your own expense.
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