Listen to the audio or read below for the transcript. This episode is 15 minutes long.
Happy Tuesday, lovely! I’m Andreea, your host here on The Introvert That Could Podcast. Every episode is a mix of tips on productivity, time management, and how to move forward when you’re stuck, with a sprinkle of motivation and a side of relevant personal stories. I want you to have all the tools and support you need to face the challenges of being an introvert and take action, because without action, there are no results. Let’s dive in!
Happy New Year and welcome to Episode 6. For the month of January, I prepared a few topics that will be useful as you start working towards the goals you set for 2020. If you didn’t decide what to work on yet, go back to Episode 5 and check out my planning process.
I decided to start with Saying No because one of the common challenges you, I and everyone else face, is time. Scheduling time to work on your projects or goals. Unlike many other coaches who would say to suck it up, wake up early and make time (which is partly good advice), I prefer to stop, take a step back and analyse what you committed to.
Productivity is not about getting more done, it’s about getting the right things done.
And if your todo list is filled with other people’s interests, no scheduling system in the world will help. If you’re not including enough tasks to move You forward, to work on Your business, waking up at 4am won’t be enough.
Growing up, I was told off for saying No and even in my adult life everyone encouraged me to say Yes. But if you’ve seen “Yes Man”, you know that saying Yes all the time can have serious consequences. There’s also the other side of the coin, taking onboard too many tasks or opportunities that are for your own projects, but either dilute your focus or are not aligned with who you are. This one is a great topic too, but for today I’ll stick to saying No to other people.
Did you ever wonder why is it so hard to say No? An answer would be because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. But why? Why not hurt someone’s feelings? How’s that bad?
If you remember I mentioned in a previous episode that everyone has 6 basic needs in life. Similarly, humans also have 2 basic fears. They’re universal and everyone experiences them in a way or another, at some point in their lives.
The fear of not being good enough,
and the fear of not being loved.
They’re at the core of all the other fears you experience. If you don’t believe me, think about it for a second. The fear of public speaking can be tied to both. The fear of failure? Same. And the fear of saying no? Same.
This is both great news and bad news. Great news because it doesn’t depend on the other person – they can keep asking, and you can keep saying no. And bad because it means that you have to work on yourself to solve the “problem”. I’m only saying it’s bad news because it requires effort, but growth is always worth it. As long as you always bring the focus back to what you can do, you make the problem solvable because the ball is in your court.
That being said, I have a few tips for you on how to start saying No and a script you can use as your answer.
1. Accept that it might always feel icky
No matter how much you work on it, the fear might never go away, so set the correct expectations. And remember this for any of your fears, it’s ok if some of it stays with you for life. You are, after all, fighting with something that’s very well imprinted in your brain.
Notice that it’s there, but know that it’s not life threatening, and it’s absolutely normal, but it doesn’t have to stop you. I’ll talk about this more next week, when we’re looking at the fear of failure.
2. You can’t hurt someone’s feelings
Your feelings are created by your thoughts about the circumstance, not by the circumstance itself. Have 2 different people look at the same situation, and they’ll feel differently about it because they think about it differently. But the circumstance is the same.
You have absolutely no power over someone else’s feelings, it’s their thoughts that create their feelings. And how they think about what you’re saying, is really their choice and only their choice to make.
Still, you don’t have to be rude just because you know this. The best thing you can do is reply in a way that feels right and fair to you. You do your part as well as you can, but from there on, it’s their interpretation that will determine how they feel about it.
3. Pleasing everyone is impossible
Apart from being exhausting, it’s impossible. And somehow we know this, but we still try?
Going back to that basic fear of not being loved, answer me this: do you really want someone to love you only if you do things for them? One useful way to look at this is the other way around. Do you love the people in your life for what they do or for who they are? I’m sure you love them for being, not doing.
Also, some people will not like you no matter what you do. Do you like everyone? It’s hard to accept that not everyone will like you, but the sooner you do, the sooner you set yourself free from an impossible expectation.
Remember, someone’s opinion about you, is almost never really about You, but about how they see the world. I really like the example of a fruit, for example a pear. Some people like pears. Some people don’t like pears. Does this mean something about the pear? No, it means something about the person. The pear just exists, and it’s being itself, some people eat them, some don’t and the pear is perfectly ok with it.
4. Understand the effects of saying yes all the time
Every time you say Yes to something, you say No to something else.
No matter what systems you use, you still have a limited amount of time and energy. Not everything will fit in, and that’s for sure.
Because I schedule my tasks in the calendar, I have a visual of this – saying Yes to something is saying No to something else. I schedule my calendar week by week and I consider everything pretty much set in stone on Sunday evening. However, if there’s an emergency, and I say yes, I obviously have to replace what was in my calendar at that time.
Either another task that will have to be moved, effectively delaying my progress; or a white space which should have been rest and now will be replaced by work, affecting my energy levels in the opposite direction; or time with my family, which I consider important to maintain balance. So with every request, I have to ask myself if I really want to say Yes.
5. Set some boundaries and let them be known
I have a few rules of my own that can give you some ideas, and I’ve been enforcing them for so long that they’re now habit for me, and very well known by others.
I schedule my week on Sundays and nothing makes it into my calendar after that, unless it’s an emergency. I consider it emergency if it involves blood, and unfortunately, it has happened. Otherwise, I’m very careful about replacing my tasks with requests from someone else.
Everyone thinks their stuff is important, of course they do, so you have to be mentally strong and have your own back.
A good strategy is to stay away from your phone in the morning, for as long as you can. Not because the phone is evil, but because if your willpower is still not strong enough, at least you give yourself a chance to say No by not seeing the requests. I try to ignore WhatsApp messages and emails until lunch time, and even if I read them, I don’t reply.
If you stay consistent, people will know that you only reply to emails or messages at certain times and there won’t be urgency on either side.
And last one from me, every other Friday I have the day off. Every 2 weeks, I have one day with absolutely no work, no exceptions, not even emergencies. For that whole day, everyone pretends I don’t exists. My private clients know this, the girls at the Yoga studio know this, my friends know this. That Friday is for myself to spend time with my dogs and nothing changes that.
And remember that this doesn’t apply to work only, but social engagements too. You can say No to fun if it takes away from being able to work on yourself. Decide what’s reasonable for you and when you reach that quota, start saying No.
6. But what do you say?
First of all, here’s what not to do: say “I’ll think about it”, and go into hiding, hoping it will somehow go away or they won’t need you anymore. It rarely works out. It’s stressful for you, it feels icky all the time, and unless that person knows you well, they might believe you and wait for an answer from you at a later time. So do everyone involved a favour and be honest.
Here’s what I usually say:
“Thanks so much for considering me for this, I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I’m unable to help because my schedule is full at the moment”.
Then I proceed to say that I can help out some other time, if that’s the case, and if I can recommend someone else for the job, I do it. If I have an online resource I can share that might help, I do that too. Be as honest as you can. If for example, you want to say No because you don’t think you’re the right person for that job, say so and offer an alternative.
Your reply needs these 3 basic elements:
- Acknowledgement – show gratitude for the opportunity
- Politely refuse and optionally give a reason, though you don’t necessarily have to say why… that’s your choice. I like to say why.
- Offer either an alternative or any kind of quick help if you can.
7. It takes intention and practice
Saying No is a muscle that needs training, loads of it. If you decide you want to get better at it, you have to keep the intention in mind all the time and practice as often as you can.
I sometimes put myself into situations where I get to say no for the sole purpose of conditioning myself. I grew up being forced to say yes all to the time and now I have to reprogram my brain to do the opposite. I grew up in a system based on fear, where the basic rule was “you do what I say, or else”. No wonder many of us have absolutely no balance in life as adults, saying Yes is the default in our subconscious.
As with everything else, start small but then keep the ball rolling.
I practiced a lot with my Mom. Every time she visits or we visit, she likes to give us tons of stuff. In the beginning, we said yes to everything. Then I started leaving some of the items with her. Last time I saw her, she brought us nothing. It took a few years, but it finally worked. My answer was usually “thank you, we love these, but we have too many things already and we like to pick our own”.
Sometimes I say No to requests to cover Yoga classes even if I have availability, just to keep the muscle trained.
When we went to Disneyland last September we had lunch at a restaurant where someone came to the table to take pictures and if you wanted, you could buy them. We said Yes to taking the picture, thinking they’ll show us the pictures before they print them. But no, a few minutes later, someone showed up with our pictures printed and stuck onto a keychain and a frame. That would have been a classic Yes moment, don’t you think? They had already printed them, the work had been done. Still… the picture looked terrible, and I said no. I felt bad for the waste created, but at the same time, I felt that they deserved someone saying No to them every once in a while. They didn’t even show me the picture before printing it! Anyway, I was very proud of myself.
And that’s it. I’ll see you in a week, when we’ll talk about the fear of failure. Until then, if you want to share any comments, insights or a-aha moments, I’m always a click away.
See you next time!
This was it for this episode, but if you want to continue the conversation, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or find me on Facebook and Instagram. But the best thing you can do is sign up for the Life Lesson Letter, the weekly email I send out every Thursday with new content and insider-only freebies and details. Sign up now and you’ll get instant access to all available goodies, including the latest PDF “From overwhelm to taking action: 6 steps to find more time in your day, declutter your to-do list and get things done“. Just go to coachmeamazing.com/lifelessonletter
Thanks so much for being here and I’ll catch you on the next one! Have an amazing day