I’ve seen a lot of articles over the years, touting the value of learning the word “no.” And I totally agree. Learning to say no to certain commitments, favors, tasks, and extras is a major necessity, as we can quickly find ourselves saying “yes” to everything and drowning as we try to manage it all. “Sure, I’ll take on that project at work.” “Absolutely, I can bake seven dozen muffins for the school bake sale.” “No problem, I can swing by and drop everything off.” “Yes, I’d be happy to head up this meeting at the last minute.” Learning how to gauge what you can say “yes” and “no” to takes time and effort; it’s a process. A process I could probably write an entire post on (but won’t at the moment, because I’m too excited to share this tip instead!)
So the question is out there, you’ve been asked to pick up something extra, you’ve been tapped for extra duties. The spotlight is shining on you, the person is waiting for an answer. You’re frozen, trying to furiously think through your commitments and weigh whether or not you can do it. You quickly blurt out, “Sure, no problem; I can do that!” And within ten seconds of responding you realize it’s not the best idea. You’re stretched thin as it is. You kick yourself for not remembering it’s important to say “no” at times.
Try this instead. “Let me get back to you.”
Don’t give a “yes” or a “no” right away. Instead, take some time and let the person know you are going to get back to them. This buys you time, out of the spotlight and pressure of an asking tone, to consider your time, your limits, your priorities, and your available resources. This gives you time to respond thoughtfully, weighing the pros and cons, the positives and negatives, the risks and rewards, before giving your final answer.
“Will you take the lead on organizing the event? I’m happy to help, though let me get back to you about leading.
“Can you pick up my shift over the weekend?” Let me look at my schedule and get back to you.
Can you cover the cost of this until after the party? I need to run some numbers and get back to you.
Are you able to watch our dog/daughter/guinea pig while we’re out of town. Let me check some things and then get back to you.
Let me get back to you. It’s a powerful phrase that provides us time and space to thoughtfully consider our options and then respond with intention. If you have a hard time saying “no” or feel an overwhelming sense of dread when you do say “no,” give this response a try when initially asked for a favor. Think through your commitments, resources, priorities, and limits before giving your final response. You’ll be surprised what a simple “let me get back to you” can do!