Lesson 9 – Ten easy ways to deliver a guilt free ‘No’
Have you ever had the experience of ‘yes’ coming out of your mouth before your brain has engaged enough to think of a reasonable ‘no’ answer?
Don’t they call that ‘engaging your mouth before your brain’.
We also call this the ‘elephant syndrome’.
When it is some time in the future or in the distance, it seems like a very small thing, it’s not a big deal. But as the time gets closer, the issue gets bigger and the closer it gets, the bigger the problem and the worry about what to do gets – an elephant, small in the distance – huge up close!
Let me ask you this – is it more of a worry to say ‘no’ or let someone down last minute because you can’t cope with whatever you’ve committed to doing?
Other people are OK with you saying no and in fact most people would rather know and have the opportunity of making alternative arrangements than to be let down at short notice and then have to solve the problem.
Practising saying ‘no’ does help and it gets easier as you grow in confidence that other people are not going to hate you for it, but initially having ‘no’ strategies can help, try these:-
1. Have a standard stalling answer. A friend of mine always used to say – “It’s feasible, I’ll give it some thought”, this actually meant no – he could have been a clearer about it, but it was a good stalling tactic.
2. Another stalling tactic is to say “I’ll get back to you” or “I’ll have to check the date”. The point of stalling tactics is to give yourself time to come up with an acceptable ‘no’.
3. Beware of the excuse solvers. A friend of mine had this problem when she was young. We have another mutual friend who is an excuse solver – they don’t have the perception to realise it’s an excuse and leave it at that, he genuinely receives the excuse at face value and, if he can solve it, he will. For example, if my friend said, ‘I can’t find a babysitter’ he would find one for her or if she said ‘I’ve told John (for example) I would go to the cinema that night, he would either change the date or phone John and invite him along to whatever it was he was arranging. If you know you have a problem solver to deal with – be direct. They will honestly be fine with it and appreciate it. To this same person I would always just say ‘no’ I don’t fancy it and that would be the end of it and he was OK with that, he could understand a direct ‘no’.
4. This is one I use quite a bit when I’m invited to events I don’t want to go to, I say “thanks for inviting me but it’s not really my thing, but …. would enjoy it” and I suggest someone else if appropriate.
5. “I’m flattered that you want me, but for personal reasons I’m not in a situation where I can take this on. Perhaps in a year from now things will be different. Can we talk again if my circumstances change?”
6. “I know I’m going to disappoint you, but I’ve decided I can’t this time. Is there any way to get someone else to step up?”
7. “I’ve really had fun in the past, but I can’t make it this year. That week is already packed for me.”
8. You can also make your own policies and blame it on that – for example lending money or something valuable – you can say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I have a rule not to lend money, your friendship is more value than the risk of falling out over money”
9. Don’t feel like you have to say ‘yes’ just because you’re capable – if you have a skill that others covert, you will be asked to help out from time to time. Just because you can, you’re not obliged to – remember that.
10. You don’t need to give excuses or reasons, one of the biggest mistakes people make if they are uncomfortable with saying ‘no’ is to keep talking and come out with excuses – if you’re dealing with a problem solver, beware, they will eliminate your excuse for you, so just don’t give one, politely decline and then zip it.
Tomorrow we conclude the lessons with a summary of what you can do to stop feeling taken advantage of.