How to say “no” without feeling guilty

How to say "no" without feeling guiltyDo you have a hard time saying “no” to the request of others? Do you find yourself always saying “yes” because you want to be seen as kind and considerate?

Well, you’re not alone. As a real estate agent, you know how it feels to be overscheduled and stressed with work and personal commitments. You also know how important it is to keep distractions at a minimum and have healthy boundaries so that you can focus your time and energy on what matters most. Saying “no” is much easier when you do it within a context of generosity. This means being helpful and available to your friends, family and colleagues, when it doesn’t cause significant inconvenience or stress, and when you don’t harbor resentment.

This week I’ve been working with a client who shared with me how exhausted she’s been feeling from being pulled in multiple directions. She was falling behind with her work load because she was constantly giving in to requests to spend time with friends. She had a hard time saying “no” as she didn’t want to disappoint her friends or give an impression that she was cold or anti-social. Unfortunately, always saying “yes” to their requests was taking a toll on her mental and physical health, as well as being a real productivity killer. As a result, she was trying to catch up with work late at night and depriving herself of sleep, neglecting her usual yoga classes, and not following-up on leads of prospective sellers and buyers. She wanted to work on a plan to manage her time better and say “no” to her friends without feeling guilty or rude.

After we talked about some strategies, my client was excited to experiment with saying “no.” Here are a few things we talked about that you can also experiment with if you want to practice saying “no” to new commitments.

Time block your week for work and personal life. Block off time for work, family, self, and relationships. Stay committed to your appointments and know that if you accept a new commitment, something else in your schedule will need to drop. Create well-defined goals that keep you motivated to stick to your schedule.

Simply say “I’m sorry, I have a prior commitment.” Use a kind but firm tone. If you’re asked again or if you’re asked to explain why, just repeat politely, “I’m sorry, but I’m already booked,” and change the subject. You might feel like you need to give a long explanation, but that can open you up for negotiation. Keep it simple.

If you’re uncomfortable saying “no”, say “Let me get back to you. I need to check my schedule.” This buys you time to look at your calendar and assess how you feel about the request. Be sure not to wait too long to respond.

Offer an alternative. If you would really like to accept the request but don’t have the time, offer to do something else. It’s fine to say “I won’t be able to help out but I know someone who can,” or “I can’t do this, but I can…,” or “I can’t this weekend, but I can next Friday afternoon.”

Saying “no” assertively and without guilt requires that you know your values and priorities. When you know your personal boundaries and what you stand for, you feel more justified sticking to your commitments.

What do you need to say “no” to? What do you sacrifice when you always put others before yourself ?

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