Zoe Chance, a researcher in behavioral economics and Yale professor, realized she had achieved a certain level of success as an increasing number of invitations to speak around the world came her way. “I was thrilled, but these opportunities left me overwhelmed and stressed,” she wrote in her book Influence is Your Superpower.
She was instructed by her coach to start saying “No” more, and to really commit to the practice, she vowed to say “No” to everything in the upcoming month of November. Soon, it became known as ‘No’vember, a month of saying “No” to speaking invitations, coffees, requests from colleagues, and so on.
“As the month progressed,” Chance wrote, “I started to feel less stressed and more in control of my decisions, my time, and my life.”
Through her work, she has found that many people find it impolite to say “No” to requests and invitations. She argues that we have been socially conditioned to be giving of our time and the end result is we feel stretched thin in too many directions, which leads to resentment. “You have to start with ‘No’ to expand both your comfort zone and your power,” she says.
With the month of November quickly approaching, we challenge you to say “No” more often, with the intention of being kinder to yourself — and making more space in your days.
Zoe Chance suggests these ways to say no effectively:
- To a social event: “Thanks for asking, and I would absolutely love to do something like that with you another time.”
- To a salesperson: “Thanks but I’m not interested.”
- To a romantic overture: “My intuition says no — it’s a gut feeling and I always listen to those.”
Instead, talk about what you are focusing on or, in business, specializing increasingly more on. It’s okay to tell people you are focusing your time on:
- One of your children because he/she was recently bullied at school
- Taking care of an ailing parent
- Rehabbing after an injury or surgery
- Coaching your kid’s sports or extracurricular team
As Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.”
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