How to Say "No" (with Ease + Empowerment)
By: Charlotte Silverstein
We’ve all been there - the days, weeks or even months where we have zero time for ourselves. We sit on the bathroom floor crying because we just want to skip out on that one friend’s birthday dinner to stay home and watch Netflix. We stare at our work email praying that those after-work drinks will cancel, because we so desperately need to go on a run. We then realize we can’t remember the last time we were able to simply RELAX.
At Moon Cycle Bakery, we often talk about our fears and struggles. Every single time someone from our team mentions how they wish they hadn’t made so many commitments for the upcoming week, but feel like they can’t cancel or take it back.
Our society has programmed us to be YES men and YES women. From a young age, we have been trained to feel anxiety after hearing the word “no” spoken. If you do say it out loud, you end up feeling terribly guilty and selfish.
We are here to tell you that you should not feel guilty or selfish for saying “no.” Take that bath, cook that meal at home, sit in the hot yoga studio, go to the movies alone - whatever your version of self-care is. If we have no down time, how are we supposed to take care of ourselves mentally and physically? And to take it a step further, how are we going to show up for our family, our friends and our passions when we’re running on empty? Go ahead, cancel those plans, or better yet, don’t commit to them in the first place.
Saying “no” can be terrifying, so we put together some suggestions for you on how to say “no” with integrity and kindness (+ a happy heart). Most people will be understanding and respect you for being upfront and honest and it isn’t your responsibility to justify your needs to the people that may not understand. *girl/boy/all human power*
PS: we have short attention spans, and the fact that you canceled on that one plan will most likely be forgotten. It’s not as big of a deal as our minds trick us into thinking.
To your friends and family:
Turning down our friends and family might be the hardest since feelings and emotions are involved on both ends. There are just some people we feel we can’t say “no” to. We don’t want to disappoint our loved ones and come off as unsupportive. The best tactic with friends and family is to keep it short and to the point. If we offer a long-winded explanation, we will only make the situation worse. People can feel the energy we give off! If you feel disempowered in your decision, our friends and families will easily be able to pick up on that energy.
Rather than telling your friend, “I really don’t feel like being around people I don’t know well at your party,” try “I’m sorry I can’t make it, but I would love to grab dinner one-on-one next week.”
Rather than telling your family, “I don’t want to come over and help you set up the new TV,” try, “I am unavailable today but you can FaceTime me in 10 minutes so I can check it out!”
Rather than telling your friend, “No way am I driving six hours round trip to attend your graduation; I get anxious even thinking about it” try, “I get bad anxiety on the road. Let’s please celebrate when you are back in town.” (and send them flowers!)
To your boss:
No one wants to shut down their boss. No one wants to be viewed as lazy, unwilling to be a team player, incompetent…or worse, get fired on the spot. The thing is, you can absolutely say no to your boss and the truth is, passive aggressiveness will breed resentment, misunderstanding and loss of a job more than honesty ever will! There are ways to do it in a respectable manner and with a tone of voice that feels grounded instead of defensive.
Rather than telling your boss, “I don’t have the time to take on this new project,” try, “Could you please help me prioritize my task list?”
Rather than telling your boss, “That is a terrible idea,” try “I’d like to propose some ideas of my own as well.”
Rather than telling your boss, “I suck at math, why would you give me an accounting task?” try, “Rosalie is much stronger at math than I am and I feel that my skill set can be better utilized on the new business pitch coming up.”