How to Say No to Massage Jobs (or anything)

Massage therapists are givers.  We are people who got into massage to do good, to feel good about doing great work that helps people live better lives.

Yes, we are also savvy business owners and smart decision-makers. But sometimes the Generous part overwhelms the Smart part, and we end up with too much on our plates, stretched too thin, and resentful in the process.

It's not easy to start saying No. But it will get easier if you practice and have some replies ready.

We're not only talking about volunteer gigs here. You can say no to paying jobs that you just don't love, or that don't pay as well as you like.

Saying No is an art, and doing it well will gain you respect and a pretty kick-butt sense of confidence.

First, stop saying Yes

Even if something excites you, give yourself the chance to pause and consider if you can fit it into your schedule. Decide if the benefits (emotionally and/or financially) outweigh what you have to give up to do the gig or task.

Look at your calendar and figure out where it would fit, and how it would fit, before you say yes. Try, "That sounds interesting! Let me check my scheudle and get back to you tomorrow."

When you say Yes to one thing, you are saying No to something else. Like time with your kids, or time for you. Or income you need to meet your goals. Make sure the Yes is worth it.

Ways to say No

Say No honestly. Don't make up excuses or give more reasons than you have to.  Don't lie. If you reply with a kind No but the asker persists, repeat and be firm. Here are some ideas.

Thank you for thinking of me, but I'm not the best person for that task.

Thank you for thinking of me, I can't fit that into my schedule this time.

That sounds like such a great event! I've decided to decrease the amount of jobs that take me out of my office, so I can't accept your kind offer.

When you can, offer an alternative. If it's a paying gig, suggest a colleague who may be interested. If it's a charity or fundraiser, check out sponsorship or donation options if that's right for you.

Clarify or Educate, but only when the situation calls for it

No, you don't need to offer up excuses. But when there are very clear reasons for not taking a job, and there's an opportunity to (kindly) educate the asker, do it!

When a lovely HR person called and asked me to do an on-site event, my awkward/shy instinct wanted to say, "Oh, I'm booked up that week, but thank you for asking," and hang up the phone quickly. But that wasn't true.

So I girled up and said, "Thank you so much for contacting me, but I don't do on-site gigs. I have a local colleague I know and trust, may I give you her information?"

Or sometimes I'm interested in the gig, but their budget is a little too low and there's no flexibility. If I can make more money seeing clients at my office, I'm not going to take a pay cut to schlepp to an on-site gig.

I've learned to gather my courage and say,

"Thanks so much for the offer, but I'm not able to take the job at that rate."

If it's a decent rate (just not enough to woo me away from the comfort of my office) I'll refer out to a trusted colleague who loves on-site gigs. If it's just a silly insulting rate, I won't refer them to anyone.

Stepping Away

When you need to stop doing a job or volunteer event you've done in the past, the technique is a little different. Give advance notice to the event planners, and have a replacement in mind. Be proactive, you can even contact the organizers before they reach out to you. Drop an email or make a phone call, something like:

I wanted to let you know that I won't be available to work the Relay for Life/church fair/employee wellness event this year as I have in the past. I've spoken with my friend and colleague Joe, and he's very interested in working the event. I've worked with him in the past and can recommend him wholeheartedly.  When you begin planning, you can reach him at phone # or email address. Hope the event goes well!

If you're already committed to the next event, you can even let the organizers know now that you won't be back next year. You won't lose standing or respect in your community if you handle these situations with integrity and consideration for those organizing the event.

How have you said No? Share in the comments!