Written by: Mackenzie Strong

A guide to the gentle art of saying no in both your professional and personal lives.

You get an email from your boss asking for you to work overtime next week. A text from your best friend, who wants you to sit down with her to revamp her resume. A call from that guy you’ve been seeing for a few weeks, who wants you to join him and his buddies on a ski trip for the weekend.

While on the other hand, your plans for the next 48 hours include a bottle of red, a few French pastries, and some good ole fashioned ‘me’ time.

With the ‘disease to please’ embedded in all of us, saying no has become somewhat taboo. We don’t want to upset our seniors, cause conflict with our friends, or dare miss out on a fun time with Mr. Right. Of course, no one wants to come off as a cold soul who never lends a helping hand, but as we fiercely juggle time in between our social and professional lives, our plates can fill up fast – leaving little to no room for those extra favors or festivities we wish we could (or feel obligated to) partake in.

The first step in breaking the ‘yes’ streak is realizing that you’re only human and that there’s only so many hours in a day. Although we like to think those four extra shots in our morning Americanos fuel our ability to power through our daily endeavors, we just might not be able to do it all. The golden rule is quality over quantity – and it’s important to focus on the stuff that matters most, instead of filling up your to-do list with things that can pull you off track. So, the next time your co-worker asks you to take on an extra project, remember that it’s okay to turn him down.

Spreading yourself too thin can result in exhaustion, burnout and stress, and ain’t nobody got time for that! When it comes down to the requests you just can’t commit to, here’s a few ways to gently tell your boss, boyfriend or bestie ‘no’.

Speak from the heart. Tell them that you just have too many things on the go right now, and you’re unable to take anything else on. Keep it short and sweet; briefly tell them why you’re saying no and thank your roommate of thinking of you when seeking expert help on planning the best bachelorette party ever.

Put it on repeat. If your date won’t take no for an answer the first time, don’t give in just because you feel under pressure. Kindly reiterate as many times as you need that you’re feeling too exhausted after a long work week to head up to the Rockies with him and his friends until he gets the memo.

Suggest other options. Even though you may not have the time to sit down with your bestie to reconstruct her resume, sending over some solid sources that will help her nail that job interview shows that you have her best interests at heart. Offering alternatives is a great way to help out without soaking up all of your time and energy.

Say you’ll sleep on it.  Working overtime seems like a major buzzkill, but banking a few extra hours would only add to your rainy day fund. If it’s something you need to mull over, ask your manager if this is something you can ponder for a couple of days. This will give you an opportunity to review this week’s engagements and bask in the idea of spending your evenings at the office.

Like anything, declining a friend’s invitation or passing on a request from your boss takes practice. Remember to tell them like it is, be firm, and offer alternatives on how you can best help them out. If you’re still not sure it’s something you’d be into, let them know you’ll sleep on it. Although saying no can be scary at first, we promise that it can be good for your mind, body and soul!

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