Sometimes we create unnecessary stress by over-committing ourselves or by committing ourselves to people who take advantage and don’t appreciate our efforts. (Been there. Done that.) We volunteer for extra projects at work thinking it might help us get ahead. We take on projects at our children’s school or extracurricular activities because we want to be involved parents and feel guilty saying no. We inadvertently associate with people who continually assume they can utilize us to carry out their tasks.
Of course, not everyone who asks for our time is trying to take advantage of us. Yet we can reduce our stress levels by eliminating those unnecessary commitments. It is okay to say no and to stand your ground. If being a troop leader is unfulfilling, find another way to get involved. If you are being asked to perform work-related tasks beyond the scope of your duties request extra compensation for your time and efforts. If heading up that committee means you are going to miss something else you prefer, don’t do it.
Say no when you need to. Say no when you want to. Here are five ways to stand your ground:
Decide that you will not commit to anything extra unless you want to and have time to do it. If you have difficulty saying no, you can politely decline by explaining this new rule you have put in place for yourself. It is perfectly fair to state you have other projects in place that currently require your time.
Write down your daily or weekly activities. Before you commit, take a look at how much time the mandatory items on your to-do list will take. That may help you to recognize whether or not you have any time for unwarranted commitments. For those who genuinely enjoy taking on extra responsibilities, this will allow you to choose the ones that your schedule permits.
Be cautious of people who tend to ask a lot of you. They can be sneaky. They may kill you with kindness, guilt you or even hound you. However, once you begin to say no they typically move on to someone who will say yes. There is no reason for you to feel guilty about choosing your own commitments.
Remain a team player. You can still say yes, volunteer to help or take on that project when the timing is right and the request is one of interest to you. Recognize that even if you do not take on every task you are still a team player. This acknowledgement will allow you to help out when it works for you and decline when it does not fit your interests or schedule.
Dig your heels in. People can be persuasive. How many times have you heard a child say, “Pleeeeeeeeease?” Adults can do the same in their own way. They may even assume you are declining because you want to be persuaded, so they will butter you up before asking again. Politely let them know that the answer is still no. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day and what you do with them is your choice.
Some people may be genuinely asking for your help while others will tend to take advantage of your kindness. Has there been a time lately when you chose to stand your ground and say no? How did it make you feel?