Just Say No

Just Say No

As the saying goes, "You can't be all things to all people all the time." So why is "no" an underused word in your vocabulary? If you're juggling the responsibilities of a job, a marriage, a household and parenting, a little assertiveness goes a long way.

What Makes a Good "No"?

Saying no is often a much needed and underutilized skill. But saying it effectively can be difficult, especially for working moms. To avoid misinterpretation or even a suggestion of wiggle room, you need to state your no firmly and not feel compelled to constantly provide explanation. Justification can leave you open to being undermined.

If no is still hard for you, there are other strategies you can employ. For example, to make your no more palatable, you can offer to do something else as an alternative. Also, if saying no up front makes you uneasy, you can buy some time to ponder your decision by saying, "Let me think about it."

Of course, it's great to talk about being assertive, but how exactly do you find the right words to say you want to decline? Here are some scenarios with examples of how to just say no. The most difficult part about becoming more assertive is not feeling guilty or apologetic when you have to say no. If you can overcome that hurdle, the words will find their way.

For the Neighbor

The request: "Since you're already home by the time the kids get home from school, you wouldn't mind watching my little girl for a while, too, would you?"

What you say: "No, I'm sorry, but I don't think I'll be able to commit to that on a regular basis."

For the Boss

The request: "Can you stay late tonight to finish up this project?"

What you say: "No, I've got other obligations after work tonight. How can I offer the most help before the end of the day?"

For the Kids

The request: "Mom, can I have a friend stay overnight tomorrow?"

What you say: "Let me think about it. I'll let you know after dinner."

For the Spouse

The request: "Honey, I've got a tee time on Sunday at 4 o'clock. Is it all right if I skip Billy's soccer game that day?"

What you say: "Actually, no. He's expecting you there and so am I. What else can you work out?"

For the Relative

The request: "Can I borrow some money?" "Stay at your place?" "Leave my cats with you while I'm on vacation?"

What you say: "No!"

As a working parent, your time is a precious commodity. Don't give it away just because someone asks for it. When another demand on your time is simply not possible -- or not desired -- saying no is the appropriate response. Becoming more assertive is a skill like anything else, and practice makes perfect.

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