Does it feel like you give of yourself to everyone else without getting the same in return?

If you find yourself saying “yes” to that question, then you might have some trouble saying “no” to your family members and friends.

When you take on too many commitments, then you’re spreading yourself too thin. If you are keeping track of your life with a smartwatch or Fitbit with a Fitbit band and see that you never get to sit down, you are making a recipe that will guarantee that nothing is going to get done. 

If you want to reduce stress in your life and stay productive, then learning how to say “no” more often can get you to where you want to be. Here’s how you can start to set better boundaries for yourself.

Be Straightforward With Your Answer

If you don’t have the bandwidth or desire to help, then be honest about yourself. When you explain the reasons why you’re turning someone down, it makes the answer more understandable. Then make sure to stay on message because telling three different people two different solutions is one way to lose friends quickly.

Provide a Lifeline to the Other Person

Showing some empathy to the other person when you offer a “no” can help that individual to tolerate your answer. Happiness isn’t going to be an emotion you’ll see in this situation, but you can offer a lifeline if someone feels overwhelmed. Contributing in small ways can still make it feel like you’re part of the team.

Balance Being Friendly With a Desire to Stay Firm

If you try to make the other person feel bad about their request for help, then you’ll get a lot of resistance to your answer. Avoid any grimacing, sighing, and other non-verbal cues that show dissatisfaction.

It might seem tempting to soften the answer to reduce problematic feelings when you’re in that moment, but it is okay to be firm with your response. Don’t walk away leaving people with the impression that you’ll change your mind.

Keep Your Expectations Accurate

Some people will not accept “no” for an answer. If you offer that response, the other person might be more than happy to burn a bridge. You can influence the decisions of others, but you cannot make choices for them. You’re never going to find ways to please everyone, so it is up to you to adjust your expectations. If you give people space to sort out their feelings, then they might come back around.

Practice saying “no” to get better at it. Then you’ll create the extra time you need to take care of yourself.