If you said yes, you’re not alone.
A lot of people struggle with it. In fact most people will say yes because it’s the polite thing to do.
While it’s easier to say no to strangers, it’s especially difficult to say no if a person is close to you. Either a member of your family, one of your friends, or your boss.
Saying no can make people so uncomfortable, they would prefer to say yes just to keep the peace.
Why people can’t say no
Being social creatures, we all have a need to belong. We all have a survival mechanism that will instinctively want follow the majority, where protection can be found by sticking together rather than being left out on our own.
To avoid the risk and fear of being left out or being alone, it’s possible to go to great lengths to maintain relationship and connection with others. Meaning, the fear of losing a relationship or connection with others can be so great, people will say yes when they really want to so no.
Prized beliefs that become barriers
Sometimes, people struggle with saying no because they may have been brought up to believe that saying no is mean or selfish. The guilt experienced after saying no can be so overwhelming that rather than feeling it, it’s avoided by saying yes.
5 tips to help you say no
To help you begin to be able to start saying no, here are some tips to get you going.
Tip 1. Give yourself time
Often people feel pressured to say yes. There is an illusion that there is an urgency and an answer is needed right now. The reality is that unless there is a serious injury, a major crisis or someone is dying, most things can wait!
Give yourself time to think about what you’re being asked to do. It’s helpful to give a timeframe for when you expect to give a response.
Tip 2. Do you have the time and resources to say yes?
Start to think about whether you have the time, resources, or if you’re comfortable with what you’re being asked to do. There is always something jumping up and down trying to get your attention. If you say yes to everything, chances are you will run out of energy, and your ability to do what you need to becomes compromised.
Knowing what your day to day priorities are, and whether you have the time and energy to make commitments outside of that, makes it easier to say no. The clearer you are about your reasons, the greater your conviction. This clarity will help to enable you address feelings of guilt.
Tip 3. Address the guilt
When we’re feeling guilty, it means that it’s motivating a need within us to apologise for something we’ve done wrong. So ask yourself, do I need to apologise for saying no? Am I wrong for saying no?
Chances are it’s not that you’ve done something ”wrong”, but that there are other more pressing priorities or needs at stake. So the question you need to ask yourself here is, is guilt appropriate?
For example, a friend may have asked you to take them to the airport but you are unable to because of other arrangements. You may have really wanted to take them and are sorry you couldn’t help. This isn’t so much about apologising because you’ve done something wrong but rather, you’re sorry because you can’t help out a friend.
Another example can be that you’ve phoned into work sick after waking up with a severe case of the flu. You love what you do and you know that your boss is depending on you, and you don’t want to let her down. But the best course of action is to stay home in bed and recover.
You may feel sorry because you can’t go into work, but again, have you done something “wrong”? No! Feeling guilty all day because you’re attending to what’s best for you, is likely to increase your stress levels and make your symptoms worse.
Not looking after yourself and your needs leaves you in a vulnerable position. Worst of all, you can start to feel resentful after continually neglecting yourself because you can’t say no.
Tip 4. Address the fear
We talked before about people being fearful when saying no to people close to them. There is a fear of being abandoned. So the question here is, will (….) abandon me if I say no or will they understand and accept it?
The answer to this response will determine the health of the relationship. If your partner, family member or friend accepts your no, then chances are that communication between you is in good shape.
However, if no is not accepted and you’re frightened that you are going to be abandoned, then a review of your relationship is necessary.
Tip 5. Answers ready to go
Having a variety of sentences at your disposal can be really helpful when being asked for something. Here are some examples:
I’m not sure right now, I’ll get back to you by (…) am/pm
I’d like to help but it’s not convenient for me right now
I can’t help you with that but I think (….) can
I’m right in the middle of (….) now, can I get back to you?
Or, you can say, strongly and firmly –
What’s helped you say no? Leave a comment below