Generally we like to please people, and we like to be liked. What’s the by-product of this? We hardly ever say “no” to people.
Being able to say “no” to people can have enormous benefits to our mental and physical health. In other words: IT CAN BE REALLY GOOD FOR YOU!
Why learning how to say NO is so important
Being able to say no will give you many things. It’ll boost your self esteem, it will also give you a greater sense of control in your life, and it’ll define boundaries with other people.
We’ve all said yes to things we’ve really wanted to say no to. It could be a work Christmas party, it could be a friends social gathering, it could be helping a friend with something or any number of similar things.
So why do we have this inability to sometimes, or many times, do things we don’t want to do? Well it could be out of a sense of obligation, it could be because we might not like the conflict we think saying ‘no’ might bring. It could be because we don’t want to upset the person asking us, or it could be that we think if we say no, the person might not like us anymore. Of course all of the above things aren’t true in most cases.
Always trying to please everyone is impossible
Imagine you’ve been invited to a friends party, it’s in a few days. The issue is you’ve had a really big week at work, and all you’re looking forward to is it being the end of the week. You’re simply too physically and mentally drained to go out and socialise.
So what do you do? Do you sacrifice your own wants and needs and go? Or do you listen to your own needs and say “no” to your friend? It depends on you, but learning how to say no will give you a powerful tool you can use to take more control of your life.
We all have boundaries, and it’s fine to stick to them
When you say no you’re essentially telling people your boundaries, this is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do. We all have boundaries, and while sometimes we let them down, it’s always fine to stick to them.
When you say “yes” and you really mean “no”, you’re not being true to your boundaries. You’re compromising yourself for someone else. For sure we all do this at times, and sometimes it’s necessary, but we don’t need to do it all the time.
How do you say “no”?
Let’s go back to the example of not wanting to go to a party you’ve been invited to. How do you tell the person you don’t want to go?
It’s actually easier than you think: just tell them the truth.
If you’ve been overworked all week and just want a night at home to relax, you can say that. You could say “I genuinely appreciate the offer, but I’m having a really big week and I’m starting to feel run down. This weekend I really just want to stay at home and recharge.”
Nothing wrong with that right? There’s no malice, no lying. It’s just you saying your needs.
They will appreciate the honest answer, and you’re being true to your boundaries and your feelings. If they persist then just stand firm and politely decline.
What if you don’t want to go just because you don’t want to go?
Maybe you’re not tired, maybe you don’t like the person enough to want to go. Maybe you just can’t be bothered, what do you say then? Well if this is the case I think saying to them “look, I just don’t like you enough so I don’t want to go” would be a pretty mean thing to say.
In this case it is ok to tell them the truth, just not the whole truth. You could simply say “oh thanks for the invite but I’ve already made plans”. Or “I appreciate the offer but I can’t make it”. This is a polite way to decline.
Whatever you do don’t leave it open ended, especially if you don’t have any intention of going. Avoid saying things like “maybe, I’ll get back to you”, or “I’ll think about it”. If you say this you’re just putting it off.
Just saying “no” isn’t that helpful, or nice. You need to give a reason too.
Learning how to say “no” takes practice
I used to be a yes man, I would more often than not say “yes” to anyone about anything, even if I didn’t want to do it. Sometimes someone would ask me a question and I’d say “sure” before I’d even taken the time to think about what they’re asking of me.
After doing a bit of reading about the importance of saying “no” I started to add it to my social vocabulary. At first it was very difficult, as I thought I was letting the person down, or making them think I didn’t like them. Of course I wasn’t, and I was surprised that 99.9% of the time people’s responses would be “ok”. And that would be the end of it.
Wow! No fights, no tears, no world crashing down, no ended relationships. It actually had the opposite effect, my relationships grew stronger because there was a better line of communication, a more honest one.
People have no issues saying “no” to me, they’re comfortable expressing their BOUNDARIES. You should be too.
Start small and work your way from there
If you do feel uncomfortable saying no, then maybe start by saying no to the smaller requests, then slowly work your way up to the bigger ones. Soon you’ll be saying “no” like a pro!
You’ll feel more sure of yourself, you gain more people’s respect by sticking to your boundaries, and more importantly you won’t compromise yourself. It’s ok to say no.