Saying No Without Burning Your Bridges

Photo Contribution : Arooj Malik
What happens when you are reputed to be sweet? People thoughtlessly bombard you with requests. Saying no is a hard thing for me. For those of you who want to be polite and generous, we need to learn how and when to say no. Every help request that comes brings a chance to build a relationship. It's an opportunity. But saying no to a mean person can free you up for an important opportunity. I always used to say yes when I knew it would help someone, no matter what it cost me. But with growing responsibilities on my shoulders, I decided it was time to say no to wrong requests.

What we need to see is that a being a giver doesn't mean we have to say yes to all the requests of all the people. But saying yes to some of the people without compromising your own integrity and ambitions. Pleasing people and helping people are two different concepts.

The question running through your mind must be "How to Say No" without damaging your reputation? It's not an easy task. Courses are offered to tackle this problem. However if you're a good learner, these tips can help you:

1. Create your filter
Filter out the selfish takers. Tell them when you are really going to be free down the road. Those who really care will understand and will not bother you. Avoid single minded people who just want to get what they want and don't care about anything else. Prioritize people. Understand that the people who truly respect you are missed out in your practice of helping the aggressive ones. There are people who don't want to disturb you unnecessarily and there are those who want an advantage over and over again without realization. Saying no to the pushy ones will save you time to help the considerate ones.

2. Get your meaning over
There are people you really want to help but you don't have time and resources to do that. You can recommend them a better person for this work. Tell them "It's not my scope of practice." or "I'm honoured that you've approached me. I won't be able to give this task full attention because of time constraints." Get your meaning over to the person. Let them get the hang that saying yes means making a commitment. At the moment you aren't ready for that because when you make a commitment, you make sure it's done.

3. You aren't cold, you're busy.
Saying No can make us look rude and cold. Negative people will take even a nicely rejected request as something personal. A better way to preserve your kind and caring nature is telling the person that you have a long queue of requests. At the moment, you can't take up the responsibility because you'd be falling in your obligation to him/her.

4. "Introduce Me To Her"
Most of my friends ask me to introduce them to another person. I usually have no problem introducing but there are situations when it doesn't seem right. So I realized this is what I should be saying : "I'm not close enough to her to impose" and that "I'd look clingy if I keep going after him/her"

New types of problems will keep emerging in your life where none of the above fit. There you need to shake your brain up, keeping emotional responses in control. There's a blunt approach for those who won't budge. Those who keep coming for unpleasant requests regardless of how politely you defer. There you need to tell them you're sad to disappoint them. Don't forget to be compassionate first though.

This post is dedicated to two of my angel juniors. Zehra and Arooj.


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