Learning How to Say “no” and Setting Boundaries
We see new opportunities as a chance to grow and build or strengthen connections with others. This makes us eager to gain as much experience as we can, and it is so easy to take on new responsibilities at school or work. In the long run, doing this can cause us to burn out physically and mentally. Here are 3 tips for setting boundaries and exercising your right to say “no” to new opportunities when you see fit.
Ask yourself some questions
Saying “no” can be daunting when you are early in your career because you don’t want to miss out. It can also be hard if you are a people-pleaser or someone who is always willing to lend a helping hand. However, if you don’t establish boundaries, then other people may take advantage of you. Ultimately, the decision to say “yes” or “no” is up to you, but you should be selective of what you sign yourself up for. How will this opportunity benefit you or make you happy? Is this about a topic that you are passionate about? Does this opportunity align to your goals? Think through these questions critically so you can make enough time and space for you to rest and recharge.
Focus on quality vs. quantity
Saying “yes” to everything will wear you down and result in lower quality output. If you’re always at max capacity, it will be hard to adapt to new deadlines, expectations, or circumstances as they pop up. You may end up getting everything done, but it will be mediocre. It’s better to focus on fewer opportunities and excel at them because you will dedicate more time and attention, leading to better results. This helps you establish a reputation of excellence instead of being known for delivering inconsistent or mediocre results.
Practice makes perfect
The more you practice saying “no” and sharing your boundaries with others, the easier it gets. You’ll stop overthinking about the “what if’s” when it comes to hurting other people’s feelings and begin to realize that you are simply communicating your needs. Even if you try to say “no” to things, you may still end up saying “yes” if you’re not firm or clear enough. Saying “no” should be clear and hold strength because you don’t want to be talked into flexing your boundaries. When dealing with a manager or supervisor, you can say “yes I can do this, but then I will need to de-prioritize another task or project…” and then work with them to figure out what you should be focusing on so you don’t get burnt out.