Are you a business owner struggling to say ‘No’?

You can’t say ‘No’ in case you upset, offend, won’t be liked or it’s just not in you to say no.

You believe you should always help out when you can….

And lots of other things you tell yourself when you struggle to say NO.

As a business owner, not only are you juggling all the jobs but you’re keeping everyone happy too!

So, you say ‘Yes’, instantly get annoyed for saying that and pile on a huge heap of stress you don’t want or need.

You have a ‘No’ muscle and like any other muscle in your body, it needs to be exercised and strengthened if you are looking to stretch it to achieve more.

How to build and strengthen your ‘No’ muscle

Here’s how you can strengthen your ‘no’ muscle which means  you can have more time for the stuff you want to say ‘yes’ to and stop having a negative impact on you and your wellbeing.

1. Practice

Like any new form of exercise you need to practice and build it up. Running a marathon? You wouldn’t pop your running shoes and head out for a 26 mile run would you?

No, you would build it up. Gradually. Bit by bit until you feel pretty good about it.

You can use this ‘bit by bit’ approach on saying No too.

Some ways you can practice saying ‘No’ is by:

  • Stand in front a mirror
  • Practice with a friend
  • Record yourself
  • Video yourself

Find a way to practice saying ‘No’ that’s right for you.

In a way that you are firm, assertive and without piling on the excuses.

Here are some examples of how you can say ‘No’ and a fab tip here is that once you’ve said it – say no more.

Chances are you’ll end up talking yourself into saying ‘yes’.

  • That sounds great but I’m full to capacity right now.
  • That’s not going to work for me but I know someone who could help.
  • No.
  • Thank you but on this occasion I’m going to say No

And if the other person keeps pushing you.

Repeat what you said earlier.

2. List what you will gain and what you will lose by saying no

Spend time with a cuppa and a piece of paper.

Head it up ‘Saying No’ and draw a line down the middle of the page.

Head one side ‘Gains’ and the other side ‘Losses’

Then, list them.

You can also use this exercise to reflect on past events where you said ‘Yes’ when what you really wanted to say was ‘No’ Change the heading to ‘Saying yes’ and list your ‘Gains’ and ‘losses’

3. You’ll feel guilty

For the first few times you will feel guilty. This is a new set of exercises for you and your ‘No’ muscle is letting you know that this hurts a bit.

Recognise it.

Say ‘Hello!’ to it.

Consider how much worse the consequences would be if you had said ‘yes’ and know that the guilt will pass.

4. Boundaries

Having boundaries is about deciding where you draw the line and everything on your side of the line is what will determine what you decide to let into your life and business.

You may also notice you are spreading yourself too thin – being all things to all people.

Ever experienced that?

It’s not great is it? And the more you ‘accommodate’ people and situations the more exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated you can become.

Setting clear boundaries will allow you to say ‘Yes!’ to what you really want to do.

Here are some ideas to help you with boundaries:

  • Recognise when you say yes when what you really wanted to say was no
  • Spend time with people that have good boundaries – watch and learn
  • Follow your own desire rather than obligation

5. Cut yourself some slack

Put the stick down and be kind to you. This is something I see business owners forgetting to do.

Being Kind To Themselves.

Saying ‘No’ is something that can be tough to do and will get easier with practice. Be chuffed with yourself each and every time you say ‘No’

You’ve stretched that ‘No’ muscle a wee bit further.

Further reading

Imposter syndrome: How to recognise it and manage it so you can grow your business


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