The Art of Saying "No" for Work/Life Balance

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Written by Kirsten Taggart

How many times have you said “Yes” when you really wanted to say “No?” We strive to make our friends, family, and employers happy by doing favors when asked, but sometimes its okay – necessary, even – to just say no.  This doesn’t make you selfish or rude, but the way you say it shouldn’t leave the inquirer in bad spirits. When it comes time keep these five tips in mind.

1. Be polite and respectful. A graceful rejection will leave a much better impression than a defensive one.

2. Don’t lie. Saying no is best in its simplest form. You should never feel required to state your reason, so don’t feel pressured to give an excuse.

3. If it’s a task that can be completed another day, let them know that you will be able to help at a more suitable time.

4. Offer to ask around to see if someone else is available instead.

5. Hold your ground. If they ask again, calmly apologize and reiterate that now is a bad time.

It’s important to prioritize and choose your “yes’” wisely so as not to become overwhelmed. Don’t lose sight of the importance of personal time!

  • Chris Jones

    Excellent post, Kirsten. I have been thinking through where breakdowns happen in office and corporate environments. Or really, anywhere that people come together in groups.

    Healthy boundaries includes respect for the time and priorities of others. When you talk about saying ‘no’ I think it is an affirmation of what your boundaries are, as both team member and as a professional.

    Of course, we can’t be TOO restrictive on our time, especially if we’re in a support role. But there are almost always ways to get the requester the help they need.

    So I’m all for healthy boundaries. Makes for a more productive team, and a huge step toward work life balance.

    • Kirsten Taggart

      Well said, Chris. I know a few people in my life that are afraid to say no and I hate seeing them stressed because of it. Setting healthy boundaries (I love that term) does make for a better work environment, and I hope this article will give some people the courage to stand up and say no once in a while.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  • Diana Antholis

    Great list. #2 is so important. People always feel compelled to lie as to not hurt feelings. I always think telling the truth is better. Many people are uncomfortable with silence or confrontation so random reasoning starts coming out.