How to say “No”

A lot of times people have trouble saying “no” to others. We worry about hurting other’s feelings, needing a good excuse, or being talked out of our decision. We fear being considered unkind or maybe even rejected by the person we are standing up to. Maybe we’re worried about losing our cool and having some sort of emotional response while trying to be assertive. Or maybe we don’t think that stating our opinion will actually accomplish anything. Saying “no” is a good skill to have or else you will find yourself doing a lot of things you don’t want to do.

1.     Start by saying “No” - If we start with an explanation, or “maybe…” we leave a lot of room for confusion. The most assertive thing to do is to just start off with “no”.

2.     Try to use the phrases “I won’t” or “I don’t want to” instead of “I can’t”. When we say “I can’t” it leaves room for situations to change or the other person to clear your schedule for you. Communicating that you “won’t” or “don’t want to” is a lot more clear and difficult to argue with.

3.     Follow your “no” up with a brief explanation and an understanding of how your “no” might impact the other person. Don’t feel the need to come up with excuses though. Be confident in your decision.

Learning to say “no” is like exercising for the first time. At first if will feel very uncomfortable and you might be a little sore. The more you practice the stronger the muscle will get and the more natural it will seem to communicate what you’re really thinking.  

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