It happens all the time. Maybe you didn’t check your schedule. Perhaps it felt embarrassing to say “no” at the time. Whatever the reason, everyone accepts commitments only to discover later that they have to say “no” after saying “yes.” It’s a stressful situation that can feel daunting even to the most emotionally intelligent person. But don’t worry: Here’s how to do it with grace and honesty.
Let’s begin by agreeing to a basic principle: Lying is almost never a smart strategy. In many cases, telling a lie may feel so much easier than being truthful. However, lies can easily backfire and you don’t want to earn a reputation as insincere or lacking in character.
Getting caught lying can easily damage a friendship or burn a professional bridge you may need later.
Instead, be honest and state the real reasons why you have to decline a commitment.When they have to say “no,” a lot of people experience guilt because they feel that they are being too self-centered.
Learn to look beyond this understandable reaction and dig for the real reason why you have to say “no.” Very often, you’ll discover that you have a valid reason. For example:
- You feel burnout
- You want to spend more time with your family
- You already have several overlapping commitments
- You don’t feel qualified to complete the task
Remember that It’s OK to Say No After Saying Yes
Saying “no” after saying “yes” is so difficult in large part because it runs counter to many things we learn as children. Things like “Be true to your word” or “Always keep your promises.”
The truth is that real life is a bit more complex and nuanced. As adults, we make mistakes or miscalculations and it’s OK to correct them.
If you have to turn down a commitment you previously agreed to, keep in mind the validity of your reasons. Author William Ury calls it ” a positive no.” This strategy means showing the other party that you have to say no to them in order to say yes to something more important, or more basic. For example:
- “I hate to backtrack on this, but I just realized I just don’t have the bandwidth to deliver the quality this project requires.”
- “I’m so sorry. I know I said I’d do it, but I’m experiencing some signs of burnout, and I feel I need to slow down a bit.”
More Tips to Propel Your Business Forward
Read these previous posts for more tips that cover every aspect of the management of your organization, from communication to online security.
- The importance of Critical Thinking in the Workplace
- How To Make Team Meetings More Engaging
- What Is Analysis Paralysis (and How To Beat It)
- This Holiday Season, Beware of Package Delivery Scams
About The Pomona Chamber of Commerce
At the Pomona Chamber of Commerce, our mission is to keep you up to date with the most relevant developments in business management and administration so you and your company can take advantage of new opportunities