We all find ourselves in situations when we want to say NO to someone but we end up saying YES instead. Why is that happening? Why is it so difficult to say NO?
In his book on self-confidence Martin Perry lists the inability or avoidance to saying NO, as one of the most common obstacles to building up healthy self-confidence. In other words, by not learning to clearly set priorities in our life and consciously say NO to people and situations that don`t fit in our plans, we unconsciously decrease the level of our self-respect and confidence.
Another way of affecting our self-confidence in a negative way is, instead of clearly communicating our NO we ignore people and situations that we don`t like with the hope, that they will magically disappear. In both cases, by either saying YES instead of NO or by ignoring uncomfortable situations, we are sending the same message to ourselves, which is: “I don`t consciously decide what shape my life is taking on but I let other people or my own fear decide for me.”
The danger in such way of living lays in moving away from our goals and visions because each time when we say YES when we don`t want to, we are saying NO to ourselves, our own priorities and we are giving our power away.
Here are some reasons behind saying YES when would like to say NO:
– Fear from hurting or making someone angry
– Fear from rejection (“If I say NO then I can`t ask them when I need something.”)
– Fear from not being liked or accepted
In such situations it can be very helpful to remind yourself of these simple facts:
You have the right to say “Yes” or “NO”!
You have the right to set your boundaries and priorities!
You have the right to express your needs and wants!
Once we decide to come from the place of conscious choice we can focus on some technicalities that can help us expressing our NO in a clear, powerful and respectful way. One effective way is the following formula that consists of two parts:
1. Acknowledge the person.
2. Tell the truth (and say NO).
Let`s say you want to say NO to a friend who invited you to a party that you don`t want to go to. By using the above formula your response could sound like this:
“Hi Ann, thanks for inviting me to that party this weekend. However, I will say NO because I have some other commitments that I already said yes to.”
Now there is a 3rd part to this formula which is optional and that is:
3. Acknowledge the person again.
In the above example that part would sound like this: “I would like to meet you soon so let`s plan something for the next couple of weeks.” Why is that 3rd part optional? Because it`s something you want to use only if you really mean it and you genuinely want to meet that person again, and not because you feel guilty or fearful. Remember, we speak of conscious choices, conscious communication and conscious living here so we want to be aware of not falling back in old habits.
Other sentences we could use are:
“I understand your situation, at the same time…. (the truth and NO)…….”
“I would really like to ….., at the same time….. (the truth and NO)……”
“I appreaciate that you aproached me for help, at the same time ….. (the truth and NO)….”
Respond clear and short without being cold or disrespectful!
Explain your decision for saying NO without justifying yourself!
Instead of using weak statements like “I can`t” use the conscious, powerful “I would rather not…”!
Don`t apologize unnecessarily!
Here is my challenge for you: Choose one thing that you don`t want to do, an obligation, an opportunity or a person that you don`t want to spend time with. Call that person and tell them NO by using the formula above.