How To Say No
A NO is a NO and it is not to be discussed! Saying NO to every distraction that the world offers us is the most efficient way to say YES to our own lives. As long as we understand that we have a mission on this Earth, a passion that drives us, and we are working on our potential, we will benefit others.
The fiercest opposition when I suggest customers say NO to what is not aligned with
their own life project is: "I seem selfish." Sometimes I also hear "I'll get fired." In both cases, it is the fear talking, not our compassion or our good heart. Fear is our true engine and we say YES because of a lack of courage to say NO.
So how do we say NO without fear? Here are some tools:
• Say Thank You
Whether you accept or refuse an offer, always say thank you. This is a sign of respect and consideration, and for the person making you the offer, sweetens the bitter pill of disappointment when you refuse.
For example, a colleague invites you to dine with him. You don’t want to spend an evening at the weekend with someone from the office and you need to spend time with your children: "Thank you, that's very nice for thinking of me, but I have to decline your invitation because this weekend I want to spend my time with family. "
• Say NO Clearly
Here is the key to effective NO. If we are clear, we will not be afraid and the person will feel our quiet strength and probably will not insist, or take offense. Nevertheless, we must ALWAYS consider and accept the consequences of our NO. This is an important element of our decision. If we are willing to live with the consequences, our NO will be kind but firm. However, if we consider the consequences of a too large or difficult refusal on our relationship with the other person, look at how our YES can be a real, conscious YES, full and accepting.
Recently a client didn’t not want to go to a gala dinner to accompany her husband. She was very tired and that day had already assisted at a party with friends in the morning. At my suggestion to decline gently, she expressed that she felt she had to go because it 'was important for her husband’, and she wanted to please him. We tested the hypothesis of saying NO and taking the consequences. It was clear that she wanted to please her husband, who would be happy to go to the party with her. We then worked on the opportunity to say YES, expressing her tiredness, her need to rest and looking for a set time to come home. In this case, the YES became conscious, considering the needs of her husband and her family and herself. (They spent a wonderful evening!)
• Tell The Truth But Avoid Too Much Detail
We want to provide an explanation for our NO in order to feel a little better. Out of guilt we sometimes give too many details. Nothing is more dangerous than inventing false excuses and getting caught with a big lie later. Your assertive NO brings you respect. In the social media era, this is more true than ever.
For example: You refuse to help a friend in his move telling him you are bedridden, yet you post on FB or Instagram photos of a party with your buddies at the same time that your friend unpacks boxes? Oops ...
So tell the truth, but you do not have to describe the list of things you must do or provide the guest list for a party to which you are invited. Too many details could give the impression that you are making up excuses. Besides, you do not need to apologise to live your life, do you?
I do not urge you to refuse suddenly and without thinking of the other person. Your NO to your boss will be different to a NO to a friend or somebody who bothers you in the bus station. The other extreme is to be avoided too: a refusal with too much sugar may become inedible.
• Offer An Alternative
If you want to maintain your good relationship with the person, you can refuse but by offering an alternative. It can be as simple as saying: "I can’t right now, but I'll have a look at your project tonight." "I have too many projects at the moment, but I will return to you next week" (and of course you make sure you do the following week).
This is certainly the most assertive manner in formal relations. You must say NO to your boss if the extra work puts at risk the quality of the work you're providing. This is tricky, but I see how often my clients have a fear of losing their job if they say NO. You can be taking risks even more important than being fired by providing a poor job. Think of your health, stress levels and lack of time. (Read my blog ‘I do not have enough time’). A good technique is to not only provide an alternative, but also seek help to define your priorities for the work: "I understand that this matter is urgent, but I'm already on the xxx project that requires my attention. Can you help me determine which project is a priority for you? ".
It may be that with friends we feel more comfortable when we say NO, but sometimes we forget to offer an alternative. If you really feel comfortable telling a friend that you can not have coffee with her, as you are hooked on Netflix or in the middle of a fascinating book, I hope it is a very good friend. It is certainly more attentive to propose an alternative to maintain the friendship.
• Last But Not Least: Check On Your Intentions Behind Your NO
Are you saying No FOR YOU or because of your feelings ABOUT OTHER PERSON? Do you truly manage your time and priorities or are you manipulating with perhaps passive/aggressive behaviour? You are the only one who can answer this honestly. If you being manipulative, there are other and more mature ways to express your needs and satisfy them. Unchecked, this behaviour could cause the people you care for to leave your life.
Did you find these tips helpful? Share your experiences with me in my From Stress To Success Group on FB where you will find materials and tips like these every day!