Success is often built on a reflexive habit of saying “yes” to opportunities that come your way. Eventually, as you succeed, you must prioritize the many opportunities that present themselves, or else you’ll be overwhelmed, overcommitted, and ineffective.
These steps can help you say “no” more comfortably:
• Slow down. Feelings of anxiety generated by the possibility of saying “no” can escalate into an emotional state in which we have diminished capacity to process information and consider options. Slowing down the pace of an interaction or a decision-making process can allow us to catch up and make the choice that’s right for us, not merely the choice that alleviates our anxiety in the moment.
• Practice. Saying “no” is like any other interpersonal skill — it feels clumsy and awkward at first, and we improve only with repeated effort.
Adapted from “Learning to Say “No” Is Part of Success” by Ed Batista.