Table of contents:

How to say no when you've already said yes
How to say no when you've already said yes

The decision is not always worth changing, but if you still need to do it, simple steps will help to refuse and maintain normal relations.

How to say no when you've already said yes
How to say no when you've already said yes

Imagine a colleague comes up to you in the middle of the day and offers to chair a community service committee. Without a second thought, you instantly agree. What is there to think about, this is such a great opportunity!

A week passes. And now you are already sitting at a laptop with an open work mail, where letters come endlessly, and there is no room in your calendar for the most basic things. Suddenly you realize that you overestimated your strengths and you need to give up before it's too late. But you have already agreed. And now what i can do?

Saying no is always difficult. Especially after you have confidently answered “yes”. Perhaps you are worried that you will ruin your relationship with the team or you will be considered unreliable. Such experiences are most often characteristic of "sensitive excellent students" - perfectionists who tend to cheat themselves and do not know how to draw boundaries.

Once you get to know yourself, you may find it unbearable to think about giving up on a promise and then dealing with disappointment or even anger. This reaction is not surprising.

A study by American scientists has shown that for our brains there is no difference between social rejection and physical pain. That is why we go all the way, gritting our teeth and closing our eyes to our own desires. This tactic rarely works because we feel stressed and others feel alienated.

It doesn't matter if you have taken on too many things on your shoulders or simply changed your mind, you can get out of any such situation with dignity and not only not damage your reputation, but also maintain good relations with others. Simple steps will help you with this.

Think again

Before you refuse, weigh the situation again and make sure you are making the right decision. Assess the opportunities you're missing out on.

Let's say you agreed to participate in a new project for your boss, and now you doubt it's for you. Think about how useful the project can be to you. If participating in it will open many doors for you and provide you with new skills, experience and an impressive line on your resume, it may be worth your strength and energy. However, if your promise is badly damaging to your main job or personal life, then rejection is most likely the right choice.

Look at the situation from a different angle

If you are worried that after your no, people will start to think you are unreliable, think: Isn't it just as irresponsible to start a project knowing you cannot finish it?

You may be showing yourself as a generous and helpful person by accepting the offer. But deceiving someone else's trust will not strengthen relationships with others. By refusing ahead of time, you are demonstrating important virtues, such as honesty, prioritization, and self-assessment, which are qualities of a true leader.

Be polite but honest

When the time comes for that very conversation, be persistent and articulate your refusal clearly. For example, resigning from the position of head of a community service committee could be as follows:

This explanation will help the other person make your decision better. But the refusal can be expressed even more simply:

In a situation where the boss asked you for a service, the following wording is suitable:

Try to keep the relationship alive

Be prepared to apologize and take responsibility for your decision and any misunderstandings. In the end, you were counted on and perhaps even made serious plans related to your initial consent. You can say:

Expressing gratitude and ending the conversation on a positive note will help maintain a good impression and good relationship.

Suggest an alternative

If you really want to help, but you just don't have time, suggest changing the schedule or moving the project to a more convenient time for you. For example:

Try to recommend another person for the position proposed to you, or specialists and resources that will help you solve the problem and implement the project.

Draw conclusions

It's always uncomfortable to give up on your promises, but there are important lessons to be learned from this situation. It may even help you break your typical desire to please everyone, which is another step towards success.

Use this experience as a launching pad. Begin to be more judicious in choosing what to settle for and what to ignore. Only say yes to those opportunities that you can't wait to bring to life and for which you definitely have the time.