7 Simple Ways To Say ‘No’
Well, you’re not alone. In the past, I was not good at saying “no”, because I didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
For example, whenever I get requests for help, I would attend to them even though I had important work to do. Sometimes the requests would drag to 2-3 hours or even beyond. At the end of the day, I would forgo sleep to catch up on my work. This problem of not knowing how to say “no” also extended to my clients, business associates and even sales people.
After a while, I realized all these times of not saying “no” (when I should) were not helping me at all. I was spending a lot of time and energy for other people and not spending nearly as much time for myself. It was frustrating especially since I brought it upon myself. I slowly realized if I wanted personal time, I needed to learn to say “no”.
Why We Find It Hard To Say “No”
To learn to say “No”, we have to first understand what’s resisting us about it. Below are common reasons why people find it hard to say no:
- You want to help. You are a kind soul at heart. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.
- Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude. This thinking is common in Asia culture, where face-saving is important. Face-saving means not making others look bad (a.k.a losing face).
- Wanting to be agreeable. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement. So you confirm to others’ requests.
- Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her. This might lead to an ugly confrontation. Even if there isn’t, there might be dissent created which might lead to negative consequences in the future.
- Fear of lost opportunities. Perhaps you are worried saying no means closing doors. For example, one of my clients’ wife was asked to transfer to another department in her company. Since she liked her team, she didn’t want to shift. However, she didn’t want to say no as she felt it would affect her promotion opportunities in the future.
- Not burning bridges. Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. It might lead to bridges being burned and relationships severed.
If you nodded to any of the reasons, I’m with you. They applied to me at one point or another. However, in my experience dealing with people at work and in life, I realized these reasons are more misconceptions than anything. Saying “No” doesn’t mean you are being rude; neither does it mean you are being disagreeable. Saying “No” doesn’t mean there will be conflict nor that you’ll lose opportunities in the future. And saying no most definitely doesn’t mean you’re burning bridges. These are all false beliefs in our mind.