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How to say “no”

Oct 07, 2021

Previously, I shared the power of saying “no” and why we should all be incorporating it more into our personal and professional lives.

Now I would like to explain the how because it isn’t easy…

As I mentioned before, physicians are inherently conscientious. Our first reaction is often to agree to a request without a second thought. We do this because we know that others’ look to us for help and leadership.

But as we realize the importance of the word “no”, we need to use it properly. And despite our fears of alienating others, this honesty brings us closer with colleagues and enhances the therapeutic relationship.

So here are some useful strategies:

  1. Live and practice with intention. You are saying “no” because you mean it.
  2. Never apologize. You are doing the right thing for you and the situation. You have nothing to apologize for.
  3. Be gracious. If it’s true, reply that you are honored to have been asked. Offer to help in some other way.
  4. Don’t list your reasons; explain your philosophy. Answer that you currently have other commitments and that it is important you properly complete the existing ones first.

To be blunt, my “no’s” are still a struggle.