How To Say "No" With Grace
I have a secret to share with you guys today.
When I was growing up and I would be asked what my greatest fear was, I’d always say SNAKES! But...that wasn’t the only thing I was scared of.
In truth, the thing that scared me most was rejection.
Rejection, to me, meant that I wasn’t enough and this fear carried well into my twenties resulting in my constant state of “YES!” to every single ask from anyone.
For those of you just joining my little circle, I am an ex-corporate burnout. I hustled so damn hard throughout the first half of my twenties that I developed chronic migraines through stress, anxiety, and 10-12 hour days staring at my screen. I never got up from my desk for lunch, quickly developed eyesight problems, and completely lost touch of who I was.
All because I didn’t know how to say no or establish boundaries.
TRUST ME, I know how hard it is to do both of those things.
Human connection specialist, Mark Groves, shared with me during our podcast interview on The Alchemized Life that you can have three different types of boundaries.
The first type is a porous boundary, where you may feel a lot of resentment towards a person or your job because you let so much slide and say yes too often without establishing any guidelines for how you would like to be treated.
The counter to that would be a rigid boundary, where you put a wall up and don’t let anyone in.
Then, there is the healthy boundary. You’ve established a guideline where there isn’t resentment but there is still connection with the other person.
I believe the best way to establish a healthy boundary begins first with your ability to say yes or no.
For whatever reason, we’ve programmed ourselves to feel awkward and guilty around saying no. We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, we don’t want to come off selfish, or, we don’t want other people to think that we don’t have the capacity to be enough.
All of this is just programming and the good news is that programming can be UPDATED.
Just like your fancy iPhone, today we are going to update your programming so you can gracefully say no the next time you feel your boundary is on the verge of being overstepped.
First, establish your “why” in life
Your why isn’t only about business. It is also about personal relationships and how you choose to show up in every area of your life. As an entrepreneur, any business coach will have you establish your why from the very beginning and this is a key exercise that you can integrate into your personal life too.
So, why are you here?
Take a moment to think about that. Why do you want to have relationships with other people? What about relationships fills you up? What about your job fulfills you?
I’ll give you my career and personal why as an example:
My Personal Why
I am here to create quality relationships with other people that love, respect, and value conversation, adventure, and connection.
My Career Why
My goal is to create a safe space for individuals to be guided towards the happiest version of themselves through mindful modalities that inspire, uplift and connect them to the deepest essence of their souls.
Once you establish your “why” you have the basis of a healthy boundary and can use it as a compass to whether an opportunity is aligned or not.
Then, reflect on your experiences
When we use the past as a learning experience, we have an opportunity to adjust our current actions and path back into alignment. Reflect back on past experiences this year that have felt like an ovestep of your boundary.
What part of this experience made you feel out of alignment?
For example, if you went out for drinks on a Tuesday night when you knew you had to wake up early the next morning, did saying yes to this pull you out of alignment for your next day?
As you reflect upon your experiences, you can take note of different elements that didn’t sit well with you. Going to bed late, drinking during the week, or accepting extra work when you knew you had enough on your plate are all great examples of ways I said “yes” when I should have said “no.”
Finally, change your “yes” to a “no”
The thing about saying no is that fear of judgement, but ultimately, people are far less more involved in your life than you think. Take it from previous podcast guest, Ben Nemtin, who told me when dealing with fear it is important to remember that people usually forget and people usually forgive.
Saying no really isn’t that big of a deal!
But, we do need to say no with grace and kindness.
Here’s my trick:
Hey Ava, do you want to grab dinner this week?
Me: Thank you for the invite! I am grateful for the offer, but have been enjoying making my meals at home. I hope you enjoy your time out!
Also, remember you really don’t need to give a reason. I usually do as a little buffer and so there isn’t really anymore questioning from the other end, but you don’t owe anyone anything.
Always say thank you and politely decline in whatever way feels best for you - either giving a reason or not. And, don’t make a white lie when giving your reason. If you can’t think of anything, simple say:
Thank you for the invite, it’s going to be a no for me this time but I hope you have fun!
The last thing you can try if it is something at work, is this:
Hey Ava, are you able to take this project on?
Me: Thank you so much for acknowledging my work - I’m so grateful that you came to me to get this project done. I have a lot on my plate right now with my other projects and really don’t want to sacrifice any quality, so if there is someone else that can take it on right now, that would be best. Otherwise, I can let you know when my load lightens?
I know saying no is scary, but ultimately, when you say no to things, the things you say yes to get your undivided attention and are that much more sacred. You deserve healthy boundaries that allow you to live to your fullest potential, so say no with grace and I promise you will experience the immediate difference!
P.S. Interested in learning more mindfulness techniques to empower your personal relationships, love life and career? I’m launching the Master Your Mind Group Live Digital Course in November and would LOVE to have you join. Enrollment is now open - click here to learn more!