5 Ways to Politely Say No to common work questions

No week. Not O week, NO WEEK. Some of us have this great tendency to serve. To serve our family, our friends, clients, bosses, colleagues, the companies we work for. It is no secret that many of us love to serve with our heart and soul. I call these types of people beautiful Nurturers. I am not a full blown Nurturer, however being a Greek woman, nurturing is not something that I can escape. Nor do I want to. Nurturers, provide incredible value in business, they build strong relationships and are fiercely loyal. They also love making people feel good, so you definitely want a nurturer looking after your client$.

Today we are going to discuss some tools for these incredible givers.  Tools are important as our time and energy are precious resources and we don't have an infinite amount to give. We will start with context and then finish with some solid ways to say 'No'.

Beautiful Nurturers, through social conditioning we are lead to believe that somewhere in amidst all of that serving, lays our self- worth. That is, the more serve, the more we are worth. It make sense why we think ‘serving’ is the key to feeling full. 

Serving is wonderful, until it isn’t. It can go from feeling gratifying, satisfying and validating, to making you feel down right used and resentful, when you do not feel your generosity is being returned. 

What makes us feel resentful? Constantly serving all the non-servers, the ‘takers’. We often end up seeing the ‘takers’ as energy drainers and then feel inner angst towards them and frustration and anger towards ourselves, for giving our power to them and serving them over and over again. 

Try Receiving

You cannot constantly be serving others and simultaneously receiving for yourself. That means, if you are serving others constantly, you are blocking yourself from receiving. If your hands are full, giving presents, you don’t have capacity to receive or hold any presents which are being gifted to you. This week try and receive, what does that look like you ask? Say yes to someone shouting you a coffee/lunch/dinner (resist the urge to say ''I will get it next time''), do something you love. Book a yoga class, a pilates, some tennis, that gym class. Or simply take yourself out for coffee and enjoy your own company. 

Receiving can be as lavish or as simple as you like. If someone gifts me something, such as lunch, coffee for example, I like to say; "Thank you, I accept graciously''. This teaches others how to receive, because believe me, a lot of people struggle to receive. It also fills that empty void which might otherwise be spent arguing about who should pay.

Create Balance

They key, as with everything, is balance. 'Takers' simply know how to receive. When we are constantly serving others, we are often not serving ourselves. This may be obvious to you or not. Sometimes, Nurturers would rather serve others as opposed to themselves for various reasons, such as; they enjoy giving, they don't think they need anything or they feel that they don't have the time etc. The undercurrent is that if you are not serving yourself, you do not feel worthy to do so. Ask yourself if you feel worthy to receive, yes or no, write down all the reasons why you do feel worthy and the reasons why you do not feel worthy to receive. To create some balance here, choose 2 ways you can serve yourself this week. Don't overcommit, graciously say 'No', twice this week - see below.

How To Say No

1. You get asked to do work when you don’t have the time = I would love to help you, unfortunately I do not have capacity to take on this job. (avoid saying sorry)

 2. You get asked to meet for a meeting or coffee and you really don’t have the time OR you don’t want to = Hi John, thank you for suggesting a catch up. I am unavailable until 21 May. Is this something that we can discuss over the phone? I can accommodate a phone meeting earlier if that suits you. (Make the things that you don’t like or enjoy easier for you). 

3. You get asked to help but don't have time; "Do you mind doing xyz? It would be a great help for me." = I would love to help you, but I really am not in a position to assist. Have you asked Jane if she can assist? 

If you feel that you have to, explain a reason, try this; “I really am at capacity”.

4. You get asked, "Can I ask you a quick question?" 

Ask yourself, is it urgent as in, does someone’s life depend on it? (Usually the answer is no).

Response: I would love to help, now is not a good time. Let’s schedule a time in the diary later today/this week. 

Be sure to offer a time when you are most free and available, don't feel pressured to cram them into your already busy schedule. 

5. You get asked to do something which is "urgent'' and you don't have the time.

Hi John, I appreciate your frustration, I am not free to help at the moment. We can discuss this in our next meeting if you like. Alternatively, have you tried speaking with Sally? Remember that someone else's urgency, is not yours to carry.

Saying no, does not symbolises that you are inadequate or incompetent, it says I know my limitations and I have boundaries to protect myself so I don't swing the pendulum too far and burn out. 

In the words of Ice Cube, ''Check yourself, before you wreck yourself'''.

With much kindness and respect to you.

Nicole x