No; a short word with a ton of power. But for many of us, it’s the most difficult word to utter. And, for busy parents and professionals alike to preserve their sanity, it’s critical to sometimes say ‘yes’ ―“I want to say, ‘no’, but I don’t want to disappoint anyone, I want people to know I’m here to help, I want them to like me.”

If you don’t say no to anything, what’s your yes worth?

The cost of saying ‘yes’ is time ―particularly, time away from the people and projects we care about. If we don’t learn to say ‘no’, we stop liking ourselves and the people we always try to please. As a result, we develop resentment.

Saying ‘no’ assertively involves communication skills such as body language, tone, inflection, and gestures. Most of all, it conveys clearly our motive –what I call, our why.

Knowing our ‘why’ means knowing what we value, and what we give our time to; it’s essential being able to say ‘no’ assertively. For instance, if our motive is quality time with family, we need to say ‘no’ to any requests that will impede us from achieving our motive. We only have 168 hours a week; they’re unrenewable and can’t be carried forward.

Understanding and learning to say ‘no’ in 4 simple steps:

1. Get informed: Understand how much time the request will take, what the impact of the request is, and who/what resources are available (and necessary) in order to complete the request. You need ALL this information before you can deny or agree to the request.

2. Say NO: Particularly women, we don’t say ‘no’ enough. We don’t have to offer long explanations for our decisions. Omitting the word ‘no’ allows the other person to come up with a solution to our excuse and, then we are forced to say ‘yes’ when we didn't want to.

3. Be congruent: Since body language contributes greatly to how we communicate, it must be congruent with your words. Make sure both feet are firmly planted on the floor and that hips are aligned with your upper body; this sends the message that you are ‘rooted’ in your decision. You can also say ‘no’ with shoulders down and head straight; this conveys calmness and conviction in your decision. Lastly, make sure your tone is calm, confident, and resolute.

4. Re-route: Use an alternative and re-route the request to someone who can say ‘yes’ right away. You can also offer your availability at a later date without compromising your ‘why’. For instance, ‘I can’t help you tonight because I already have a commitment, but I can help you next Tuesday.’ It shows good faith.

With the March break coming up things can get hectic, so we need to protect our time and energy if we’re going to have anything left to give those we love. Saying ‘no’ in the right way to what we really mean will allow us to say ‘yes’ to all that feels good and right. Learning to say ‘no’ allows us to gain control of ourselves. Squeeze the Day!