Learning how to say “no” when it’s most beneficial for you is a great skill that any professional or entrepreneur should have. Saying “no” requires courage, skill, and strength.

When “No” Is The Best Choice

Have you ever been asked to do something that you didn’t really want to do? Did you accept? Doing things for other people – whether it’s staying late at work, loaning money, or doing a favor – requires a certain amount of time, money and energy on your part. Doing something for someone will increase your happiness, but it is important to do it only if you can afford it.

When deciding whether to say “yes” or “no”, one must consider the opportunity loss of following through with the request. Opportunity loss is what you lose if you do action #1 versus action #2. For example, if your supervisor is asking you to stay late at work (action #1), the opportunity loss (action #2) could be the time missed with your family at home. There might be more of a personal fulfillment if you say “no” to working an additional hour and enjoying quality time with your family.

Think About Your Long-Term Goals

Other people place their priorities first. We will not have enough time for ourselves if we say “yes” to everybody else’s requests. Consequently, we will not be able to say “yes” to the things that matter the most. What is most important to you and what are your long-term goals? Saying “no” is a great tool in your arsenal when the request conflicts with your personal goals.

How To Say “No” The Right Way

Burning your bridges is never a good option. People place trust in you when they ask you for a favor. You would love to fulfill their request if you had unlimited time and energy. Saying “no” the right way is important. First, thank the person for asking you to do something. Secondly, explain that you are honored to be considered, but will not be able to fulfill their request. Third, mention that you might be able to help the next time. For example, “Thank you for asking me to babysit tonight! I am honored that you would consider me to take care of your baby. Unfortunately, I have plans for tonight, but maybe I will be able to help next weekend.”

When “Yes” Is The Right Answer

Saying “yes” is the right answer when you can help someone without experiencing an opportunity loss greater than the rewards or personal satisfaction obtained by accomplishing the task. Saying “yes” will make someone’s day and help you build relationships for the future. When you help someone out, chances are that that person will return the favor. You will feel a sense of satisfaction and empowerment knowing that you have placed the extra effort to do something special. Saying “yes” also works when the person asking will return the favor when you need it the most.

How often do you say “yes”, and how often do you say “no”? Learning to say “no” is a great tool to save you time and energy. Learning to say “no” helps avoid opportunity loss when the request conflicts with your personal goals and interest. Will you try it more often?

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