This is such a common issue for women because we’ve been generally raised and socialized to please others and to fit in.
You may associate saying no with horrible consequences – the ending of relationships, being on the receiving end of anger, someone not liking you – and so there’s a little bit (or even a huge amount) of fear associated with saying no.
And when you do muster up the courage to say no, you feel like you have to explain your entire life’s situation just to make saying no OK.
Here’s a revolutionary idea – NO is a freedom producing, boundary setting, taking care of myself kind of word, and, there is no need for excuses when I say no!
Believe it? If you’re skeptical or know already that saying no is not your greatest strength, then these 7 tips to incorporate saying no in your life are for you.
Determine when to say NO
You may so regularly say yes, that you’re not so clear when to say no. Figuring this out requires you to listen to your Self, your Wise Voice. When someone asks you to do something or asks you for something, check with your Self. Is this something you want to do or give? Most times when you’re listening you can clearly hear a resounding yes or no from your Wise Voice.
If you’re not sure, then it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ and then get back to that person when you do.
Just say NO
Go ahead, say it. Someone asks you to lunch. You’re really not that interested for whatever reason. Say no thanks. If you’re really uncomfortable with just the no, then you can fluff it up a bit. How about:
- Thanks for asking, but I can’t commit to that right now
- I appreciate your thought, but I’m not planning lunches out right now
Don’t lie. Don’t make up a story you’ll get caught in later. Just say no in a nice way.
Resist the urge to explain
While there may be times when an explanation is useful or necessary, often times you simply give way more information than you need in hopes that it will soften the NO. Most of the time you don’t have to give an explanation at all.
Repeat yourself like a broken record
When you begin to say no there are some people in your life who won’t believe you. You may get challenged as to why you cannot or will not do something. Remember, you do not need to explain. Saying no is enough. Just repeat your initial statement – over and over if necessary.
State what you are willing to do (if anything)
If you feel that you can respond with an alternative then do so; however, it is not necessary. Make sure that if you offer an alternative it is something that you truly are OK with and you are not offering it as a way to feel better about saying NO.
Example: I can’t make lunch, but I’d love to meet you for a quick coffee.
Be willing to be seen as the bad guy.
When you start to say no and mean it, there are those people who might get upset that you are changing the rules. As long as you are being kind in the delivery of your no, then there is nothing you can do if the other person doesn’t like it. It is important that you are OK with that person’s discomfort and that you don’t make it your job to resolve it.
When the other person doesn’t like your no, that person may try guilt. Stand strong. Don’t let the guilt work. Keep to your commitment to yourself. If you give in to the guilt, then you have successfully shown the other person how to get around your no.
Leave your own emotion out of it.
You may feel angry that people continue to ask you for things or won’t take no for an answer. After all, you’ve said no, you’ve told them you’re changing the rules, but they are just not listening!
Consider this – you have trained these people how to treat you! Really, you have. They may be rude people, but it is you who are allowing the behavior to continue. It’s not fair to get angry at the people you’ve so considerately trained. Just consistently say no, without anger, and you’ll train them to your new boundaries.
Here’s a sample, just in case you’re still not sure how this works.
A – Hi Bea. I’m calling because I need some help on the school fundraising committee. I know you said last year that you couldn’t do it again, but you’ve been so helpful before. Our meeting is tomorrow, will you be there?
Bea – No, I won’t be there, but I wish you well in fundraising this year.
A – Well, I was really hoping that you could take over the coordination this year. You’re so good at it and none of the other parents have time. You’re my last hope.
Bea – Thanks for the compliment, but I can’t take that on this year.
A – I just don’t know what I’ll do then. I’ve talked with everyone else and you’re the only person I know who will do a good job.
Bea – I appreciate your confidence and I can’t help with fundraising this year. I’d be happy to give Jane a call and see if she’s interested. She’s really good at organization.
A – Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but OK. I guess we just won’t make as much money this year.
Bea – OK then, I’ll call Jane now and have her call you if she’s interested. Thanks for calling.
Did reading the exchange between A and Bea make your stomach wiggle a little? It’s OK to say no. It’s OK for you not to want to do something. And, it’s OK for the other person to not like it.
What are your thoughts? I’d love for you to leave a comment below.