As humans, some of us aim to please others by helping out in whatever way we can. However, this can sometimes come at the expense of our mental health. Taking on too many commitments by saying yes to everything can lead to burn out. It is important to recognize what we have on our plates, and acknowledge when you should say no to extra commitments. This can be hard, as we might not want to come across as being rude. But, it is important to respect our boundaries, so that we are able to remain productive in the workplace. Here are some tips on how to say “no” effectively.

Firstly, truly evaluate if you have the time to add something new on your plate. You should not be readjusting your boundaries, which are meant to be respected. If you do realize you will be adding extra stress on yourself by taking a task on, just say no. This might seem intimidating at times, especially when you want to please others. If that is the case, you can say, “I can’t as I need to focus on myself,” or, “I already have other tasks to complete.”  These reasons are not only valid, but show that you are an individual who is honest and prioritizes selfcare.

When saying “no”, most of us tend to preface it with, “I’m sorry but….” as we think it softens the blow of rejecting someone’s request. However, this might make your reason come across as more of an excuse. Instead, acknowledge that you have every right to guard your time and prioritize the things that matter to you the most. Being firm with your decision to say no is the first step towards establishing healthy boundaries with yourself.

If you are afraid to say “no” directly, one way you could indirectly turn someone down before they ask for your help is to preemptively say that your week is completely booked, and you therefore won’t have time to take on new projects. This allows you to say no discreetly without putting any pressure on yourself or others.

Of course, if you would love to work on the project, but at a later date, you can express that openly! Saying something similar to, “I would love to, but I have too much going on this week. Would next week work?” allows you to be able to control when you are able to get the task done, and also helps to strengthen effective communication with the people you work with.

As mentioned earlier, saying no is not an easy thing to do. It is important to acknowledge that your mental health and wellbeing comes first. Taking care of yourself first by ensuring you are able to effectively prioritize the things that matter to you will not only protect your well being, but also allow you to grow as a productive and valuable team player in any workplace.


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