The best holiday present – how to say no

December 15, 2014
Mom, I need 4 dozen cookies for the class Christmas Party!

Honey, my boss wants us to bring an unwrapped gift for the family we are “adopting” at work.

Sandra, come on over the weekend before Christmas for our annual Open House!

Request after request after request! Requests this time of year just multiply exponentially! Always saying yes will land you in Holiday Hell, overwhelmed, overextended, and overtired. Cranky, even!

Saying “No” can be really hard. We don’t want to upset people, and we really want people to like us. Yet, saying “Yes” just to avoid offending people is simply counterproductive. I’ve learned that I need to have a plan IN PLACE so that I am prepared to say NO when the request really doesn’t work for me. Here’s a three-step plan that works.

Step 1 – Prepare yourself to say NO

Create a decision-making structure, or “rules” for saying no before you need it — a guide so that we don’t have to agonize over every invitation at the moment of the request.

It is much easier to say no to an invitation when we have a concrete reason for doing so — a way to justify our refusal beyond the vague notion that we should avoid the commitment in question.

A rule could be something as easy as “I don’t make more than two evening commitments a week,” or “Sunday morning is our family relaxing time.”

And even if the request doesn’t break a rule, ask yourself the following question: Is this something I should do or something I want to do?

Too many should commitments and we are filled with dread, or worse!

Step 2 – Have “No” statements planned

Here are some ready-made responses to keep handy during the season. And once you get the hang of these, you will be able to create some of your own.

Just Say No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up, really!)

I’m Already Booked: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”

Let me hook you up: “I can’t do it, but I’ll bet Shelly can. I’ll ask her for you.”

Keep trying: “None of those dates work for me, but I would love to see you. Send me some more dates.”

Not No, But Not Yes: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”

And my favorite:

It’s Someone Else’s Decision: “I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”

Step 3 – Don’t look back

Once you say “No” focus on the good that comes from declining the request. You may have more time to do something that you want to do (not what you should do!). Read that book, spend quality time with your significant other just “being” and not always “doing.” Take control of your calendar, your life. Be present! My present to you.

Check out Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley for more ways to say no at

Sandra Rodriguez, Life Coach

Article printed from Orange County Breeze:

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