I will not.
I am not available.
I’m not interested.
Regardless of how we say it, we believe that failing to provide an affirmative means we’re being negative (ironic because the direct antonym to “affirmative” is “negative”). But, in all actuality, learning to say “No” can be one of the most liberating things you’ll ever do and it can save the other party a lot of time and disappointment.
I know that my No’s come across as offensive. We live in an era where people assume any and everything of your time. They think that you should care about Issue A because they care about Issue A and, when you relay to them that it is pretty low on your list of priorities, they’re offended. We’re all guilty of it. Shoot, in casual conversation, I speak of my wife probably more than single (or unhappily married) people care to hear. But that is because Desirée is extremely high up on my list of priorities. I wouldn’t expect her to be there on anyone else’s. And, so as not to offend me, my friends entertain the discussion for a while because they know that, eventually, they’ll be talking to me about something they’re passionate about.
I’m willing to lend an ear to something I’m not particularly invested in. But what I won’t do is lend my time. I spend nine hours a day at my 8-5. Then I spend two to four hours each day working on my business. Add in an hour for work prep and travel, an hour eating, and an hour catching up with family/friends on the phone and I’ve only got nine hours sleep and relax. So I have become very selective with the things I commit to. And, in the event that I commit to something that I’m not passionate about, only to find out that the person who asked me to commit is not as invested as they ask me to be, I’m quick to disassociate myself from the project.
So don’t be afraid to use that dreaded word. At the end of the day, time is one thing you cannot get back, so value it more than anything else.
Make professional development a priority.