How To Say NO – And Mean It!

Posted by: Miriam | Posted on: November 14th, 2011 | 0 Comments

How come many of us find it’s so difficult to say no?  Here are some reasons as suggested by participants at our programmes.  “I don’t want to be rude”.  “I like to be helpful”.  “I’m afraid I’ll cause an argument”.   “I worry about burning my bridges”.    Here’s a really interesting one  “I actually don’t know how to say no”.  You might be surprised to learn that we’ve heard this one more than a few times.

You need to be able to say no – and mean it – sometimes.  If your tendency is to say yes when you really should say no, chances are you’ll end up swamped.  In all likelihood, you will also end up feeling frustrated, exploited or manipulated.

Sometimes we just have to get on and do what’s requested or expected of us,  but what about those times when we legitimately and reasonably need to decline?   Here’s our simple formula for saying no and meaning it, and some examples of putting it into practice:

Be brief.  Be honest.  Be respectful.  Be direct – always include the word ‘no’ .

No, sorry John, I can’t do that.

No, I don’t have the spare time just now to take that on.

I’m not the best person for you to ask to do that.  I have to say no this time.  Have you tried asking Pat?

Sorry, but no, I can’t help you with that.  Have you considered….?

No, I can’t take that on just now but if things change l’d be happy to get back to you.

You might need to repeat yourself. Do this just once, assertively.  After that, simply change the subject to show that this discussion is over.   Why not try this technique for saying no – and meaning it – during the coming week?  Let us know how it goes.

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