2 Ways to Say “NO” Nicely!

saying no

How to say NO! Why is it that one of the most common words in the English language is the hardest for many of us to say?

It’s at the very core of our human nature to want to please people, especially caregivers.  After all, if you had said NO to taking care of your senior, you wouldn’t be in this predicament, would you?

And then there’s the guilt we feel when we can’t care for our loved ones and we say NO by placing them in a senior facility. Ouch! the guilt. So why can’t we just say NO from the beginning?

Well, here are 2 ideas to say NO to get you started…

Start by saying YES!

Here are some ideas…

“Yes, thank you for the opportunity but I think I will need to check my schedule.

“Yes, thank you for asking but I will need to decline at this time.  It isn’t a good [fit or time].”

“Yes, thank you for sharing your care in asking. I really wish I could help you out with this, but I can’t [give some reason.]

I have a friend who I really enjoy being around, but she is always asking for a favor.  She slides it in when I am completely off guard. I have learned to prepare a reason ahead of time for whatever she is going to ask. If I want to do it, I still tell her I need to check my schedule because I know if I say “YES” immediately I will slide into old habits. I told her once that she asks a lot of favors but she only got mad at me, so I don’t bring it up anymore. I just know she’s going to ask and I’m the one to decide. Besides, she has lots of friends and they don’t seem to mind at all!

Say NO to your calendar and your “to-do” list

I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this. If I write out a “to-do” list it gets overwhelming and then I freeze, and nothing gets done. We teach our members to put very little on their “to-do” list now.  It can only have 7 actionable items. What do I mean by actionable?

Well, here’s an example:  Sheila’s mom got a bill from her doctor for something that should have been covered by Medicare.

She wanted to write on her “to-do” list: Solve Mom’s medical bill before she ends up in collections.  This means nothing, there’s no actionable item.

So, as Sheila’s coaches, Kat and I taught her to write actionable items:

US: OK Sheila, what is the first thing you have to do?

Sheila: Call the doctor’s office?

US: No Sheila, your mom is on Medicare, so you need to know one thing first:

  • Since your mom is on Medicare, she has a deductible of $233 for 2022. Has she already paid this through other doctors or services? If she has not paid her deductible, then she actually does owe the money and should pay the bill, but only up to $233.
  • If she has paid her deductible, then you need to find the bill. Put it in front of you, then you need the doctor’s office number and ask to speak to the billing manager or office manager. You will get the name of the person you are speaking to and ask them why your mom is being charged this when she has already paid her deductible.”

Sheila: What do I do after that?

US: “Nothing, you’ve done enough. Take one step at a time until this is done first. If we look past this one thing, we get overwhelmed as it seems to be never-ending.”

See how freeing this feels?

Most projects or tasks are really 3-6 tasks lurking under one task on our “to-do” list.

Break them down to “actionable items.” So start with the very FIRST thing that must occur and STOP!

Learn to break them down.  Our caregiver members come up with the best baby steps! And we really love working with them and the enthusiasm they bring back into their daily lives!


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Suzanne FiscelIa, PA-C, BCPA

I know exactly what it's like to feel like you just can't keep up. Working a full-time job, raising 3 children as a single mom, and taking care of her aging mother. But after feeling lost, overwhelmed, and guilty for spreading herself too thin, I saw all her patients and their caregivers going through the same thing.I learned how to put simple systems in place to keep my life free from distractions, find free time to do the things I wanted, and enjoy my family along the way. These simple step-by-step solutions have been shared with my patients, friends, and family.They too have found organization, confidence, peace, and freedom. Now we all live the life we love while caregiving! Come join us!

Hi I'm Suzanne

And my mission is to find you practical easy-to-follow solutions for everyday caregiving. Find out more HERE.

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