How to Say No by aihaozhe2


									As two-year olds, "no" was our favorite word and we pronounced it with great
confidence. What happened? As adults we take a two-week guilt trip every time we
say it in any meaningful conversation. It's an important word to use, yet we avoid it
like lima beans.

A big piece of the problem lies in the idea that saying "no" is not nice. When you get
to be a big kid, you learn it's important to be nice. Nice trumps honest, fair, and
reasonable once we move into adulthood. Nice can be deadly if you're doing too

Being effective with how to say "no" is essential. Life is more vibrant when we don't
take on things that aren't ours to carry. Saying "yes" to the wrong things doesn't do
right by the people making the requests either. Agreeing to do it because someone else
asked you to--when a different approach is needed--is a lie. Lies complicate
relationships. This particular lie also takes away that person's chance to learn to
achieve whatever the real solution was. They rely on you instead. You lose. They lose.

The saddest part is that when we do say "no," it tends to be to those who don't deserve
it, especially ourselves. We say "no" to the fun and "yes" to the work. "No" to what
we like and "yes" to what others prefer. (And then we wonder why we are stressed!)
We say "no" to the people who deserve our time and "yes" to chores no one else wants
to do. We need a better set of rules for this.

Here they are: Rule #1. Be honest. Is this really yours to do? If not, who should be
doing it? Is that person available? If not, why are you the one asked to handle it?? And
then there's the biggie: Is this important enough that anyone should be doing it?

Rule #2. Be authentic. Do you believe in what you are being asked to do? Do you
really want to do it? Is it truly your responsibility? Or is "yes" just easier? "No" takes
more courage up front but "yes" takes a lot more time.

Rule #3. Stay the course. Even when you know you need to say "no" it's easy to be
derailed by sweet talk. Be alert to the folks who tell you how great you are at
whatever they need done. A lot of us believe we HAVE to say "yes" to anyone who
asks nicely. Not really. We just need to say "no" nicely.

And that's the other part of this. The courage to say "no" often doesn't come until we
are at the boiling point. Then "no" is lobbed like a hand grenade. Saying it as "the last
straw'" often has catastrophic results. The big fight that results just isn't worth it.
Overly-delayed, "no'" is almost always part of a major explosion. Not pretty. Not
good. But instead of learning how to use the word at the right time, we decide not to
use it at all.

Say "no" when you first become aware it's the right answer. Be specific. "No. I can't
take on the fundraising chairmanship." (You can add "Sorry" if you want.) Stay it
gently. "I'd love to do something with you, but not that movie." And particularly, with
kids and teenagers, you have to say it clearly or they will still hear "yes." "No, you
can't do that" is more effective than "I don't think that's a good idea."

What about the situations where the person you have to refuse is difficult? You still
have to say it. And you have to learn to say it calmly and with confidence again and
again—even if that person is verbally abusive. Harriet Lerner's The Dance of
Connection is a great resource for these situations. (The subtitle is "How to Talk to
Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed or

Do say "yes" to what's important. Say "yes" when it makes your heart sing. But "no"
is a good answer, too. Believe it and mean it and say it with grace.

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