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How to Say No in 3 Simple Steps

Saying no and setting boundaries is not always easy. Whether the boundary is physical, emotional, financial, or for the sake of your schedule, it is important to communicate your no clearly.

Your priority is your children and your family. Your job is to educate and care for them, and that's important! Don't feel guilty when you must say no to someone (even if it is something awesome or fun!). Consider where your priorities are, and stick to them! Everything else is great, but optional. Say no when you need to. You have my permission.

I know that not everyone has the "assertiveness gene" so let me help. There are 3 easy steps to saying no. Think of it as a "No Sandwich." Start with the word "No," add an explanation or humor, and then end with the word "No" again. The other person will be more likely to hear you that way. If you are still lost, my husband and I did some brainstorming to help you come up with just the right formula for the no you need to say today.

There are three ingredients involved in a "No Sandwich".

Step 1: Say it. 

Start with a clear, simple, unambiguous declarative statement that nobody could possibly misunderstand. Choose one of these statements:

Absolutely not.
I can't.
The answer is no.
I'm afraid I can't.
I can't commit to this.
Not for me, thank you.
Oh dear! I have to say no.
Not a chance.
Nah, I'm good.
I am not interested.
Not this time.
I need to bow out.
I'll have to take a rain check.
No thank you.
No way!

Step 2: Explain it.

Add a short explanation, if needed or desired. While certainly not required, it can make your "no" more polite and easier to accept. Choose one of these statements:

My motto this year is rest and peace, so I can't fit it in right now. Ask me next year.
My sanity depends on saying no to absolutely everything right now, no exceptions.
I'll add that to my bucket list for when I retire.
God is leading me to stay busy at home, not busy outside of the home right now.
I have other priorities right now.
Sorry, my schedule is full.
Christmas is a crazy time, maybe I can next summer.
I can't agree to something that will make me grouchy when I get home.
I don't want to be rude, but my life is crazy right now, and I'd be nuts to add even one more thing.
It sounds like you are looking for something I'm not able to give right now.
God has called me to care for my family at this time.
I'm honored, but I can't.
My schedule doesn't allow for that.
I'm not comfortable with that.
I'd love to, but I don't have time.
I am prioritizing my finances differently this year.
I'm choosing peace at home, and not adding any commitments.
I'm scaling back on my commitments, and I'm not adding more.
I'm scaling back during the holidays.
My children need me at home.
Now is not a good time.
Sounds great, but I have to wait until my kids are grown.
Thank you for asking. Please keep me on your list for next year.
I would I could help you, but (insert name) may be able to help.
I wish there were two of me.
I have another commitment.
My heart says yes, but my brain and body say no.
I can't do that, but I'd be happy to … (stop by the store and buy something.)
No thank you, I won't be able to make it.
Maybe another time.
I have too much on my plate.
Perhaps next year.
I'm learning to limit my commitments and prioritize my family.
I want to be present for my family this season.
I'm not adding anything else right now.
I wish I could make it work.

Step 3: End the conversation and walk away.

Sometimes your "no" statement is not clearly heard, so if a polite explanation doesn't end the conversation, try replying with humor. Choose one of these statements:

Look! Squirrel! Ha, I figured that would distract you!
I haven't been able to do that since I was single and childless.
If I add one more thing to my life right now, my head will explode.
My sanity depends on saying no to absolutely everything right now, no exceptions.
I never add anything to my schedule on days that end in "Y".
Saying yes to that would mean the slow withering death of my soul.
I no longer do things that make me want to pull my hair out.
I would rather remove my spleen with a grapefruit spoon.
Are you serious? My life is crazy enough as it is!
I'm afraid I need to exercise my "NO" muscle on this one.
My brain is full, and I can't fit in one more thing.
Sadly, there are only 24 hours in a day, even for me.
Nein. Non. Nyet.

Bonus Step!

You may need to give closure. Choose one of these statements:

Listen to what I'm saying. The answer is no.
Absolutely not.
No way! I can't fit in one more thing right now!
I have said no.
I will not. End of story.

At the end of the conversation, your "No Sandwich" may look something like this: "No, thank you. I have another commitment that day. Thank you for thinking of me!" Or if the situation calls for a firmer tone and boundary, it could look like this: "No. I am not comfortable with that. I ask that you respect my boundary." Remember that no is a complete sentence on its own!

Homeschooling parents are care-givers, and sometimes, it's very difficult to say no when care-giving is in your DNA. This is a simple formula to clearly communicating your no in three easy steps. Be firm if you aren't heard. If there are any lingering doubts or you still feel pressured, give your answer one last time and quickly turn to leave, or send the email without any further comment. If our friendly approach and humor doesn't work, you may need to sound firmer, or even harsh, to protect your precious family time, your mental peace, your financial stability, or your physical boundaries.  

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Sunday, 16 June 2024

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