I’m going to go on a limb here and bet that you aren’t saying NO enough. I know this because I used to be in the same spot years ago. If someone invited me to a networking event, I would go. A boring dinner party? Yup. I was there. A second date with a girl I knew there wasn’t any chemistry? I would say yes every time.
Especially this last one, I would say yes because I didn’t want to offend anyone by saying No. “If I don’t ask her out on a second date she’s probably going to feel terrible about herself. I’ll just ask her out again, suck it up for another boring dinner and just let it all fizzle out and make her think it was her idea.” I was a lifting women’s self-esteem one date at a time.
I still can’t believe how many nights I wasted putting someone else’s happiness over my own. It got to the point where I was getting burnt out. Saying yes to everything wears your mind down.
How I changed my life saying No
By chance I came across this article: No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no. It changed my life.
Basically the article explains that if you aren’t super excited to do something, saying NO is your only option. I immediately started implementing that strategy.
Instead of running from event to event, many of which I had no use for, I was very easily able to draw a line in the sand and see which networking events, dinners, job offers, dates, etc. were the right ones for me. If I wasn’t excited enough to go, I wouldn’t go.
Actually, I would flat out decline saying NO. Period.
Too many options, not enough time
A great study showed how the more options we have, the harder it is for us to pick something. The study consisted of giving out samples of jelly in a supermarket. In one, they put out 24 different jars of jelly as samples. In the other, they only put six jars. Turns out that the supermarket where they only had six jars outsold the one with 24 different kinds of jelly by a big margin. The experiment proved that the more options we have, the less likely we are to act upon any of them.
The same happens in our life where we are too afraid to cut down our options. We say yes to everything because we have a “fear of missing out” (FOMO).
This FOMO is what prevents us from saying NO even though we know we can’t or don’t want to do all the things presented to us. The same goes for jobs.
Most people apply to all the jobs they see even though they know that it’s too far, the pay is too low, not the right industry, etc., etc. They do this because they don’t want to miss out on a job, even if it’s one that’s going to make you miserable.
Some time ago, I was offered a job at this energy company here in Houston. During the interview process I found out that my future boss hated working there, the pay was mediocre, and that the company culture was horrible. When they made me an offer, I swiftly said NO. Why? I knew I could get another job offer somewhere else and I didn’t want to deal with an opportunity that put someone else’s happiness over mine.
How I apply saying NO to persuasive interview
Did you know that I’ve turned potential clients away? Before I take someone as a client, I talk to them for about 10-15 minutes on the phone to know more about their goals and their commitment to getting there. If I think they are not willing to put in the work, I turn them away. For real.
Why do I do this? Because I want to spend my time working with people who are willing to put the work for their own success. More importantly, I love working with people who are willing to be honest with themselves and step out of their comfort zone. Think about it this way: if I spend all my time on bad clients, I won’t have time to spend on the good clients. That’s why I prefer saying NO.
How YOU can also start saying “No”
Saying NO will be hard at first. FOMO will probably start creeping in as soon as you start to decline and instead of saying “Thank you but I’m not interested” you’ll end up with a “I’ll try to make it!”. Wrong!
First of all, you have to be honest and brave to say NO. Some people will get offended, however, most will understand if you explain to them your reasons for saying NO. A simple “Thank you for inviting me but I don’t have time right now” or “I’m focusing on (my job search/dating life/studying for the CPA).
This second option will not only allow you to gracefully decline invitations, it will also give your audience an idea on how they can help you.
Try it. You’ll see how well it works. Be Bold!