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diplomatic and creative ways to say no

It’s easy to say yes.

“Yes, I can take on that project!”

“Yes, I’ll have that to you by next week!”

“Yes, I’ll add another client to my list!”

While it’s great to be agreeable, there is a limit. When you’re bogged down with commitments and your work-life balance is suffering, it’s time to put on the brakes and start saying no. Do it for your mental and emotional health. Do it in order to be true to yourself (in other words, don’t take on projects that do not align with your skills and interests). Do it to set boundaries and stop others from taking advantage of you.

But do it right.

Below are 10 diplomatic ways to say no. Practice reading them aloud in front of a mirror until they become natural.

“Thank you for the opportunity, but my schedule is packed.”

 “I know you would like my help with __________, but I won’t be able to do so unless/until __________.”

 “I wish I could, but as a rule I don’t __________.”

“Thank you for thinking of me, but I have other commitments.”

“I’m really not the best fit for __________. Have you tried talking with                    ? That sounds right up his/her alley.”

“I appreciate you coming to me with this opportunity. Unfortunately, I have too much on my plate right now to take it on.”

“I would like to say yes, but I don’t have time to do this project justice right now.”

 “I’m sorry, but I’m only taking on work related to _________ right now.”

 “I’d like to help you, but my schedule won’t allow any new projects.”

 “Thanks for asking, but I really can’t.

Use these responses to help you take control of your time and schedule. It takes courage, but you’ll thank yourself later if you decide to decline a project that doesn’t align with your values and priorities.



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UXL stress busting tips

It’s the holiday season and things can get hectic. Take a bite out of stress! Here are some quick practices to help you relax and revitalize:

  1. Breathe deeply

The steady rhythm of your breath has a calming effect on the mind, much like any repetitive, soothing sound or motion.


  1. Eat a healthy lunch

According to Dr. Pat Bass, a healthy diet is an essential element to combating stress.


  1. Exercise

Find something that works for YOU and practice it regularly!


  1. Mind relaxers

Do a crossword puzzle, squeeze a stress ball, paint a picture, doodle in your notebook.


  1. Yoga/mindfulness

Yoga helps you focus on the ebb and flow of your breath, as well as releasing the tension in your muscles

Yoga business woman


  1. Schedule “you time”

Write it on the calendar! Set aside some time to do exactly what you want to do.


  1. Schedule family time

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.”


  1. Walk outside

Vitamin D is essential for your skin and just being in the outdoors has a revitalizing, rejuvenating effect


  1. Laugh

Laughter reduces stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or go to a comedy show.


  1. Be present

Focus on the here and now instead of getting stressed about the future or regretting something in the past. My book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge, devotes an entire chapter to this concept.

reconnect with old friends


  1. Network/reconnect with friends/find your support group

We all need a support group. If you have close friends in the area, make an effort to reach out to them from time to time. If not, find a supportive community through meet-up groups, your local community center, etc. My last newsletter on Building Community discusses this topic in-depth.


  1. Indulge in your interests

Do you like to knit? Paint? Practice Tae Kwon Do? Work your interests into your schedule


  1. Massage

Everyone loves a professional massage, but if you’re short on time or don’t want to spend the money, give yourself a hand massage or shoulder rub.


  1. Listen to music

“Music calms the savage beast” and it can also reduce tension. Pick your favorite genre and let Pandora find the perfect music mix for you.


  1. Practice gratitude

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, a grateful person is generally a happier, more optimistic person.

practice gratitude, UXL


  1. Count/recite a mantra

The rhythm of counting or reciting a mantra can help calm your mind. Additionally, a positive mantra (i.e. “I can do anything,” “I am smart and strong,” or “Nothing can get in my way”) can give you an added confidence boost.


  1. Close your eyes

Sometimes closing your eyes is a good way to distance yourself from your troubles. It also helps you focus on your thoughts without letting visual distractions get in the way.


  1. Get organized

A neat and tidy desk or house can help focus your thoughts. Too much clutter can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.


  1. Free write

Get your thoughts down on paper. Write whatever comes to mind if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to sort through a complex issue.


  1. Plan a vacation

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, it’s fun to plan a future vacation. It also gives you something to work towards—a long term reward.

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