How To Say No

25th Aug 2021
How To Say No

Saying No to people is not easy for many different reasons. Will you offend or annoy the other person? Will they dislike you because of it? Do you fear they'll complain about you behind your back? Do you worry you'll feel guilty if they look upset or wounded?

Do you know that most people will consider you favourably if you stand up for yourself and say No in a way that shows respect for the other person, you are kind in your delivery, and you don't belittle them?

Consider these:

  • People will respect you.

You will show that you are not weak or a pushover, that you respect yourself and that you have boundaries. If you respect yourself, others will also respect you.

  • You will appear dependable.

People will realise that when you do say Yes, you'll probably do a good job. People who say Yes to everything often take on more than they can cope with and don't do everything properly.

  • Your natural strengths will improve, if you are selective in your tasks.

If you concentrate on the things you are good at, you'll improve them. For instance, you may be a great cake-maker, but you wouldn't be good at organising the church bake sale. You may be good with paper work, but not with giving public speeches, so you would be a better secretary than chairman of a group.

  • You will have less stress

You may be tempted to agree to something in order to please, but you will end up regretting it and feel pressurised and stressed if you can't succeed at it.

Five steps to keeping your self-respect and the respect of others:

1. Always be polite.

2. Don't tread on anyone's feelings.

3. Be reasonable and realistic about saying No.

4. Give a reason why you can't do something.

5. Apologise, but be firm.

When you are taken by surprise and you don't have time to think, these useful phrases can make saying No easier.

  • I'm afraid I can't
  • I doubt I'd be of any use
  • I'd rather not
  • I wish I could, but ......
  • I can appreciate that, but .......
  • As I said   ................... You don't mind, do you?

If you have time to think about a situation, here are some guidelines:

Prepare to say No

  • Spend time deciding what you really want to do.
  • Make sure you know the facts on both sides.

Say No

  • Use the word ‘No’
  • Make the message clear.
  • Use I statements, eg. I won’t be able to ........
  • Keep it short. Lengthy reasons create a weak excuse.
  • Explain if you want to, but don't be side-tracked.
  • Don't be overly apologetic.
  • Use assertive body language and be confident.

Practise on a friend. Get your friend to ask you to do something you really don't want to do. Then have a go at some of these suggestions. Above all, you need to feel comfortable with your decision, otherwise you can create discomfort, worry, anxiety and stress. You have a right to say No if you want. Is giving up your right to say No worth feeling stressed? NO!

Copyright © 2021 Brenda Martin 

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