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Postpone Your Yes
by Diane Sieg

Looking back over the last few weeks, what did you say yes to that you really wish you hadn't?

Be honest. Maybe it's the client that asked you to squeeze in a rush project. The boss who wanted you to work overtime. The brother who asked if he could borrow your new car. The friend who wanted you to grab a beer with him after work.

Like most people, you may have trouble saying no-even when you should. The problem is, your emotional and physical well-being depends on your ability to strike a healthy balance between saying yes…and saying no. Because when you say yes to too many things, you risk ending up feeling overworked, overwhelmed and resentful.

So how can you make it easier to say no? Learn to Postpone Your Yes. By not responding to every request immediately, you give yourself time and space to consider carefully whether you have room in your schedule for something new.

Here's how it works. Let's say a colleague calls and asks you to write an article for his newsletter. Rather than responding immediately:
  • First, acknowledge that you heard and appreciate the request. "Thank you, John. I'd love to contribute an article to your newsletter."
  • Then, postpone your yes to give yourself time to consider your other commitments. "I want to make sure I can meet your deadline-so before I say yes, let me check my schedule. I will get back to you by the end of the day."
By postponing your yes, you give yourself permission to think strategically about your other commitments-to strike a healthy balance between what you say yes to, and what you say no to. Remember, when you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. Something that just might be more important in your life, like your family, your health, and even your sanity!

Trouble saying no? To keep yourself from saying yes when you shouldn't, think about the emotional "hooks" that keep you from putting yourself first. According to Dr. Ben Leichtling, an expert in change management, these may include:
  • Fear.
    In other words, If I don't say yes, I'm afraid I'll look bad or I'll miss out on something exciting.
  • Guilt.
    If I say no, I'm just being selfish.
  • Arrogance.
    If I don't help, then no one else will because I'm the only one smart enough or fast enough to get the job done.
  • Greed.
    I can't say no because I want it all. Or, I can't say no because it will cost me.
  • The Need to Please.
    If I don't say yes, they won't like me. Or I won't be included next time.
I offer individual coaching, seminars, workshops, keynotes, and retreats designed to help you enjoy a more satisfying and productive life.

Copyright Diane Sieg. All Rights Reserved.

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