Saying ‘No’ is not being rude or negative, in fact, it will help you to better shape your life. Being able to say no may enable you to be more honest with others. You may be less likely to feel taken advantage of, and people may learn to come to you for the things to which you are more inclined to say yes.
Answer the following questions…
Are you a people pleaser?
Do you say yes to people only to regret it later?
Do you put other people’s needs before your own?
If your answer is affirmative to any or all of the above questions, then it’s best to learn to say ‘No’.
The author of the book The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship and Still Say No William Ury wrote in his book that the dilemma we face in saying ‘No’ often stems from an internal struggle between plugging into our own sense of power and a simultaneous desire to cater to or foster a relationship. Ury emphasized that we often do one of three things in response to a request.
Oblige – we say yes when we really want to say no, this brings us a temporary false sense of peace, but later replaces with apprehension and resentment. We submit to the relationship without consideration for our power and ironically end up undermining the relationship in the long run.
Strike – often we attack those we love the most, the ones we take for granted. We say ‘no’ aggressively, stepping strongly in our power, but with no regard or attention to the connection with the other person.
Avoidance – we neglect the prioritization of our personal power or relationship; anybody loses. We dishonour ourselves and amp up our own discomfort by leaving things unresolved, and disrespect the other person by not providing them with an answer.
It is essential to say ‘no’ to feel empowered while still maintaining your relationships with others. Saying ‘no’ helps you to establish healthy boundaries and enables others to have clarity about what they should expect from you.
Don’t have an immediate response?
You might wonder what to do if you don’t have an immediate answer to someone’s request. It is okay to take a little time to think about your response. To keep yourself from avoiding altogether, give a deadline for your answer. The deadline keeps you accountable and ensures that you honour your relationship and yourself by providing a concrete reply in a reasonable time frame.
Strategies to adopt to say ‘No’
Let us consider the following helpful strategies to say ‘no’ with greater ease…
Gain clarity around the things to which you want to say yes, make a list of your top three priorities where you will see them all the time. Know that these things are likely to change with time. Paste these priorities where you can see them every time; bathroom mirror, nightstand, laptop, car dashboard. When someone requests something from you, check if it fits your priority list before giving an answer.
Be clear, confident, consistent and concise. It is unnecessary to give a lot of information to explain your reasoning. (sometimes giving explanations can invite challenges to say ‘no’). However, can talk about things you will help with or say yes to. This shows others you are acknowledging the request and shows respect for the person who asked. Communicating to others that you have heard them can go a long way towards strengthening your relationships, even when you say ‘no’.
Have an anchor phrase, examples are “I have a policy,” or “I’d rather say no now to you now than disappoint you later”. Once you have you have your anchor phrase, practise it. Because of being proactive and prepared, you may say no more confidently so you can say yes to things that are truly important to you.
Conclusively, being able to say no may enable you to be more honest with others. You may be less likely to feel taken advantage of, and people may learn to come to you for the things to which you are more inclined to say ‘yes. People may learn to respect your ‘yes’ rather than take it for granted, you may find that your resources get allocated more appropriately, and your connection to, and communication with, others may be healthier.