How to Say No Without Looking Like a Jerk So You Can Achieve Your Goals
You want to say no, but you don't want to come across as mean or inconsiderate. You also don't want to sound like you have a lame excuse.
There are many reasons for why we want (and need) to say no to things that come up. Not for everything, but most things. If we want to focus on our work or on a goal, we need to learn how to say no to the things that will prevent us from working toward our goals.
How many times has this happened to you? You get up the gumption to sit down to focus on your work (maybe a passion you've wanted to work on for the longest time), you have your tools in order, you sit down to get started, and then something comes up. The dog needs to go outside or the phone rings and it's your mother. The neighbor comes by to drop off some mail. Or a friend invites you over for dinner.
And then there are times when you *plan* to focus. You've finally decided you're going to start as soon as you get home. But then your spouse wants you to stop by the store on your way home from work or to take you out for dinner.
Distractions are a huge hindrance on our dreams and goals. The first step in saying no is recognizing that you do need to say it. There isn't any other way around it. You can't keep taking on projects or obligations, especially when they don't align with your goals. You won't be able to work toward those goals unless you devote time to them.
So, learning how to say no is a necessity.
Now that we have that out of the way, you need to define why you need to say it. You don't necessarily need to tell other people your why, but you do need to know it so when you say no, you can feel confident about your decision.
When we don't feel confident about our decision to say no, we make ourselves think we have a lame excuse or we sound wishy-washy or even angry. When saying no, we need to say it with confidence and know in our heart that we made the right decision. Otherwise, we'll dwell on it and feel guilty when we're supposed to be focusing on our work, and that will lead to poor productivity.
The other thing to keep in mind is that we have to train others to respect our time.
How do you train them? By leading by example.
You must be the first one to respect your time. Otherwise, no one else will. You have to set the precedent. It's not their fault. You just haven't set the ground rules yet. Once they know those, they'll start to take your time seriously and they'll also start doing the same for themselves.