When was the last time when you practiced your “No”‘s? Oh, you don’t practice your “No”‘s? And why is that? Because you’re having a hard time saying “No”? Because you feel a little bit embarrassed by that? Maybe because people will turn their back on you if you dare to say “No”?
With all due respect, saying “No” it’s a vital part of our lives. If you can’t do it whenever you feel the need, there’s something wrong in the system. You have the right to chose your responses and there’s no rule which says they may not contain the word “No”. Well, maybe not always in this rather bare and somehow rude form, but with this exact meaning.
Why Saying No?
Because you really have to. Life is made up of choices and, obviously, choices means you can pick whatever you want. Saying “Yes” constantly to everything is not a choice. The same way saying “No” to everything is not a choice. Honestly putting your “Yes” and “No” on what you really want is a choice.
Too often people seem to be scared by saying “No”. The fear of rejection overcome the desire of authenticity. There’s a subtle, unconscious block which makes you feel like an alien, an outlaw, a loser and a ridiculous person if you dare to openly express your opinion by saying “No”.
I found over the time that a timely “No” is always better than a squeezed “Yes”. And you don’t have to be rude about your refusal. In fact, you can craft your own “No” strategy, which, carefully practiced, can give better results than a dumb, submissive and obedient approach.
Here are 7 ways in which you can say “No” to people – whenever you feel the need to say “No”, that is – and a little bit of background for each refusal strategy.
1. I’m Sorry But I Think I’ve Been There Before
And didn’t feel quite good about it. I mean, I totally know what you’re offering and I know it’s great, but I don’t have a very good memory about that. It’s not you. it’s me.
The focus here is on a previous bad experience with what you’re asked to do. You tell the other part you’ve done that before and you didn’t get the expected results. This approach has at least 2 big advantages.
First of all, it doesn’t challenge the possibility. The other part will know that what he asks was done before. That in itself could sometimes stop the desire all together. People may ask things from you just to see if they’re possible.
And second, you clearly state your experience with that. In this case, a negative experience. From this point away, once you stated you had a bad outcome, the other part doesn’t have many other options. And you didn’t even say the word “No”.
2. You Might Be Right, But My Intuition Disagrees
I really can’t talk my intuition into this one, you know. Maybe rationally this seems to be the best thing to do right now, but I just have this feeling… You can’t beat a feeling, you know?
Again, this doesn’t openly challenge the legitimacy of the proposal: “it might be right”. But it doesn’t validate it either. What it does though, it puts between you and the proposal a safety cushion called “intuition”.
Whenever you use words like “intuition” or “feelings” you make things really difficult for the other part. Because everybody trust feelings. Positioning the proposal against your feelings it’s something perceived as plain wrong.
3. Are You Sure This Is The Best Moment To Do This?
I mean, there are a lot of other priorities on my plate right now and I don’t know if I can cope with all that work involved. Really, is this the best moment?
In this case, emphasis is on the time constraint. It’s not the actual thing that is refused, but the moment. It’s a postponing, in fact, and people are receiving postponings better than refusals. It might be done somewhere, but just not now.
The promise of something possible, even in a distant future, as opposed to something totally out of question in the present moment, is something so powerful, that almost anyone will fall for it. Ok, I’ll wait. Maybe later. Great.
4. That Sounds Fantastic But I Have A Better Idea
Why don’t we just do this instead, I think it’s much more fun (easy, timely, useful) than doing what you just asked me. Which, by the way, it’s fabulous, you know…
This refusal strategy challenge the curiosity in the other person. First of all, you don’t go against what they said: “that sounds fantastic”, but at the some time you throw a little bait: “I have a better idea”. Everybody falls for better ideas.
The best thing about this strategy is that you silently change the role of the other person. From someone who commands you to someone who’s your partner. You go from refusing something you don’t want, to implementing a partnership for something you want.
5. Are You Sure This Is Going To Work?
I mean, it sounds a little bit risky. Why don’t we settle for something more convenient for the moment, until we see how things turn out. How about that?
This challenges the very core of the proposal, aiming at lowering the confidence of the other part in it. While this is not as effective as the first strategies, it does have a decent success rate. Especially when dealing with bully requests.
The approach in this case is to get an armistice until things can get a little better. Usually, the other part will agree, as you don’t openly refuse the proposal. With some time on your part you can then wait for a more favorable context.
6. Maybe You Should Lead On This And I’ll Follow Later
I mean, you seem to really know what you’re doing so I really think you’re fit to be the first in this one. Just go ahead and I’ll be right behind, learning from you…
This is on the verge of playing bad joke, but nevertheless, it has its success rate. Sweet talking the other part end enforcing his leader abilities could sometime create a situation in which he’s already doing what he asked from you.
Pretending the other part is in charge will often act like a magic mirror: they’ll actually start to be in charge and discard your role in the whole situation. The risk is that at some point they’ll want to look behind and you’d better be there.
7. Read My Lips: “NO”
Is that clear enough for you? It’s a NO. Capital letters. Plain, full, simple NO. I’m not going to do this. Period. End of story.
When everything else fails, do this. An open, honest and vocal refuse will most likely surprise the other part, especially if it comes on a history of obedience and submission. You can even get some respect for your strong position.
From all the other strategies, this is my favorite. I don’t do it very often, because, believe it or not, the other ones are working just great. But every now and then there are some situations when everything else fails. 😉
Which one is your favorite? How many of them have you experienced so far? Of course, if you have another one, not listed, feel free to add it in the comments, if you think it’s worth.
Or you may as well refuse to do so. 🙂
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.