We all know that sometimes, saying no is the right thing to do, if we are to manage our time and priorities well. Yet often, we still well, stutter and mumble, which gets interpreted as a yes. Is it time to try a fresh approach?

First of all, analyse why you find it hard. After that, work out your usual approach – and try a new one. Go on, I dare you!

Why do we find saying “No” difficult?

There are many reasons, and often more than one. Consider these popular offenders:

  • We do not want others to think us unkind, uncooperative or selfish
  • We want to be popular
  • We think we should be all things to all people
  • We think our refusal might cause offence or damage our career
  • We may have been brought up to think that saying “no” is impolite
  • It is easier to give in than risk the other person’s reaction
  • We do not have a clear idea of our personal limits or boundaries (it’s often this one)

Which ones apply to you? Knowing your weak spots is half of the battle. Now you need to know what to differently. try some of these:

Ten Ways to Say No

  • Get the word “No” out early in your response.  If possible, make it the first word.
  • Keep your response short – this gives less room for others to find a way in to try to persuade you to change your mind.
  • Give reasons only if you’re absolutely positive that you need to. Any reason gives the other person something to get their claws into  – they will start picking at your reason, finding a way to make less valid, or moving it as an obstacle. The less you say, the less you they can do this. Don’t be drawn into discussion about your reasons. They are yours, you don’t have to give them away.
  • Do not apologise unnecessarily.
  • Keep your non-verbal message and tone assertive, and in harmony with your words.  Maintain good eye contact and do not smile inappropriately.
  • When you have finished making your point, find a conversation closer, such as “OK?”, “Thank you for being understanding”, etc – or just change the subject.
  • If you are willing to do so, you can offer an alternative.
  • Ask for time if you need it. No one should expect you to make a good decision if they catch you on the hop. Practise buying yourself time to alter people’s expectations that you can decide everything instantly.
  • Repeat yourself if necessary. You can use the same or different words. Instead of being drawn off at a tangent, just repeat the no.
  • Remember you are turning down a request, not rejecting a person.  You have a right to say “No”!
By | 2017-03-30T14:12:22+00:00 October 12th, 2012|People Tips|Comments Off on Ten Ways to Say No

About the Author:

I am trainer, coach and author specialising in one to one skills.