Quantcast
Shutterstock

I Don't Have The Bandwidth: 12 Ways To Effectively Say “No”

Girl, "no" is a whole sentence. Use it often.

Workin' Girl

Have you ever gotten to the point where you just can't take it anymore? I mean of anything--conversations, social media, family, work, etc. It's that place where "I'm too tired for this," and "If another person asks me for anything," meet and collide. Too often we run on fumes trying to overproduce or over-function for those around us because they are depending on us. Black women especially struggle with saying "no" for fear of looking problematic or angry.

People-pleasing is at the root of always being available or saying "yes", even if it is at the sacrifice of our own mental health. I will admit that it took me years to learn how to say "no" and to create boundaries around myself and I, still to this day, will fall victim to others' demands if I am not diligent. However, it is important for me to prioritize my energy, my space, and my mental health. Get in the habit of radically accepting the fact that "no" is a complete sentence.

Why Do We Say "Yes" When We Really Mean "No"?

Boundaries are necessary to put into place when you are used to being the dependable one in any group setting. We all know that if we don't set these boundaries to take care of ourselves, we will be no good for anyone else. They are, in fact, an act of self-preservation in the name of self-care. Having some safeguards to protect what little energy you have left is a helpful way to make sure you have enough energy to process your own thoughts. So why do we say "yes" when we really mean "no"? According to an article in Psychology Today, we say "yes" for three reasons:

  • wanting to maintain a certain image to others and themselves (e.g. "I am unselfish, cooperative, accommodating"; "I am indispensable");
  • fearing the loss of something (a spouse's love, a friendship, a job)
  • believing that they cannot or should not say "no"
For women, we say "yes" because society has conditioned us to be agreeable. But for Black women, there are other things at play as to why we say "yes" when we really mean "no".

An article in Health.com explores the idea of Black women reclaiming their power by asserting themselves in various ways and saying "no". The article points out other contributors to Black women's reluctance to say "no". Tichianaa Armah, MD, Medical Director and Vice President of Behavioral Health at Community Health Center, Inc., told Health.com:

"There's a connection [of BIPOC women's] hindered ability to say no because of financial constraints."
"[That's] because Black women and many BIPOC women do not have the cushion that comes with intergenerational wealth or assets that many white women have."

Long story short, we have to deal with respectability politics in order to not get labeled as if life is not stressful enough.

Effective Ways To Say "No"

Even still, that is not enough reason to not stand up for yourself and create boundaries to enforce how people engage with you. If you don't have the bandwidth, here are a few ways to say "no" to get your point across tactfully.

  • " I don't have the bandwidth for that right now. Let's circle back to this when I have less on my plate."
  • "I am too tired to absorb that information at this moment."
  • "Let's stick a pin in this for now and think about revisiting it later."
  • "I can't download what you are asking me to do."
  • "Thanks for reaching out to me, but I am going to pass at this time"
  • "Unfortunately at this time, I am unable to do that. But here are some people I can refer you to."
  • "It's a 'no' for me at this time."
  • "I don't think I am the right fit for that. But, thank you for bringing that to my attention."
  • "At this time I have a lot going on, so it is probably better to find a different resource."
  • "Honestly, I am not going to be able to give my best effort."
  • "I would love to help out, but I would be over-committing myself and that would not serve either one of us."
  • "I am going to have to respectfully decline at this time."

I could go on and on with a million ways to say what needs to be said but never underestimate the power of simply saying "no". This is all you need to clearly get to your desired outcome. Never feel like you have to explain why you said "no". It truly is no one's business, but I have found it is always best to be honest if I ever felt compelled to further reinforce my answer with a reason.

Even if that reason is, "Because I don't want to." Rarely does it ever get this far, I find that most people are generally respectful of my wishes. If they push any further, I stick to my guns and reaffirm that I said what I said, no more discussion. We teach people how to treat us. If we don't put ourselves first then why would anyone else?

There is one resource that I think is appropriate to mention if you are still feeling like you need more, it is the book, The Book of No - 250 Ways to Say It, Mean It and Stop People Pleasing Forever. It is a great resource for finding the strength inside to show up for yourself and set boundaries. If there is anything you should walk away with from this article, it is to say what you mean, be firm, and have no regrets.

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

We’ve all been there: Exhausted, lacking motivation, on edge, or simply not feeling like working at all. And we might have even used up all of our sick days, not to rest from a cold or injury, but just to get a bit of relief from those job or business responsibilities. Sometimes, you're not able to shake that nagging feeling of gloom, eventually finding yourself in a toxic pattern of unhealthy habits and behaviors. There's a larger issue that goes way beyond just needing a break.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

CultureCon is one of the top conferences for creative people of color to attend to meet fellow changemakers. The event, which is presented by the Creative Collective NYC, has attracted some of our favorite entertainers as keynote speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe x Halle, Michael B. Jordan, and many more.

Keep reading...Show less

There seems to be a big question mark over our heads when it comes to sex during pregnancy. When ironically enough, the same way the baby got in is the same way it’s going to get out (in a lot of ways). A wise person said that to me – I just can’t recall who, so consider this to be a shoutout to a real one because in all actuality it’s true.

Keep reading...Show less

Since her days as Freddie on A Different World, Cree Summer has captivated audiences with her free spirit, beauty, and style. Since starring in the beloved sitcom, the actress has been working behind the scenes voicing cartoon characters such as Susie Carmichael on Rugrats and Numbuh Five on Codename: Kids Next Door.

Keep reading...Show less

While Jay Ellis’ claim to fame is starring in Insecure as Lawrence, the 40-year-old actor racked up many acting credits prior to and after the iconic series. He starred in The Game and currently, he’s promoting his new film Top Gun: Maverick where he plays the character Payback. The role could be considered a full-circle moment for the actor since he was a military brat.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts