Learn how to say no. That’s one of my points in my recent post on “7 tips to be more productive at your spa or massage practice.”  I wanted to pursue the topic further since saying no is a problem for many, especially women. In “How to Say No to People and Mean It” that ran in SHAPE, Kristen Carpenter, PhD, Director of Women's Behavioral Health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, says that women in particular are raised to be nurturing and cooperative, which makes it more difficult to be assertive.

Regardless of your gender, the problem is that saying “yes” too often can be very unproductive, since you can end up with too much on your plate. Also saying yes directly or indirectly by your actions is distracting. Consider how many calls, emails, texts and social media requests you receive that ask you to “please reply immediately,” “support this cause” and more that take time from doing more important things.

The bottom line that you must learn to put on the brakes to many requests so you can focus on what needs to be done to keep your spa or massage practice moving along smoothly. Making sure you have enough massage treatment products on hand, refilling the shelves with retail products or updating the website for a seasonal promotion are priorities; listening to an employee complain about a demanding customer may not be.   

Saying no doesn’t only apply to running your spa or massage practice. It’s equally important to say no to things that impact personal goals. Once you accept that saying no is okay, here are some things to do to put it into practice:

Be clear about what you want:  You may have a business associate who wants you to partner in a new venture or an organization that asks you to take on a volunteer position. At times like these, you need to ask yourself how saying yes will affect your time, your personal or business objectives and your interests. If the opportunity doesn’t fit your goals, then it will be easier to say no.

Don’t over explain: Keep your answer simple. There is no need to provide a long explanation for your decision. Also by providing reasons for your decision, you open the door to possible challenges from the other party.

Use a comfortable medium: If you prefer to say no in an email or text versus over the phone or in person, do so.

Be positive: While you are saying no to a specific request, you can indicate you might want to help later or even offer an alternative.

Use convincing language: Don’t cast doubt on your decision by adding “maybe” or “it would depend if…” Be firm but be respectful to the other person about your decision.

Get comfortable saying no. It will remove pressure and keep you focused on your vision for yourself and your spa or massage practice.