It's an understatement that learning to say no is a critical life skill. It's important both personally and professionally, and once you learn how to do it without being a jerk, you have time to focus on the things you need (and want) to do, instead of other people's priorities. Here's a quick way to master it.
In short, the key is to stop thinking — and speaking, if possible — in terms of things you "can't" do, and think instead in terms of things you "don't" do. For example, from the Science of Us article linked below:
The observation comes from a 2012 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, which found that the way a statement was framed had an effect on how well people thought they could stick to it. Saying "I don't eat X" when tempted by an unhealthy snack, for example, made participants feel more "psychologically empowered" than using "can't." The same held true with a scenario about resolving to exercise each day: "I don't skip my workout" was a more powerful motivator to get to the gym than "I can't skip my workout."
In short, saying you "can't" gives you room to reverse course, or to either pressure yourself or be pressured by others. So while you may not be able to tell your boss "I don't do TPS reports," you can say "I don't have time for TPS reports considering everything else I'm doing right now." Similarly, the method works just as well when you're saying no to yourself — something you should also learn to do. Instead of saying "I can't do the things other people ask, I'll never have time for myself," say "I don't say yes to things I don't want — or don't have time — to do." It's more empowering, more final, and even if you want room to back out later, it leaves no room for debate or wishy-washyness, and gives you the control over your own time that you need.. Hit the links below to read more.
Here's the Most Effective Way to Say No to Things You Don't Want to Do [The Science of Us Learn to Say No by Using 'Don't' Instead of 'Can't' [Mental Floss] Photo by Horia Varlan.