Monday, March 02, 2009

What is the best way to Say "No"?

His way, our way, their way
What do you notice about the people who have confidence? They don't struggle to say 'no'. That is because they are in control of their life.
One of the most difficult things for a freelancer to say is “no.” When your livelihood requires that you continue to bring in work, when a client asks you “Can you do X?,” the temptation is always to say “Absolutely!” -Say No To Others, Say No To Yourself, First Today, Then Tomorrow
The best way to take control of your life is with a 'no'. There are moments in life where it is important to say "No!" to make the right choice and be happy.
The problem is we can feel uncomfortable saying 'no' to our friends, colleagues or superiors. Possibly because we fear it will create conflict. But is this feeling justified?
Over on PsyBlog Jeremy Dean explains a research project that uncovers the reason why we have a hard time saying 'no'. The study found that when people were help-seekers they reliably played down the social costs of saying 'no'. But when they were the potential helper they realised how difficult it was to say 'no'. I suspect the reason people can find saying 'no' hard, is because it can be perceived as selfish.

What can a Person Learn from the Research into Saying 'No'?

There are two things to learn from the research:
  1. People generally don't feel comfortable saying 'No!'
  2. The person asking doesn't know the pressure to say 'Yes.'
The next time you need to say 'no', you will remember that your initial impulse will be to say 'yes', but it is OK to say "no" because a reasonable person will understand that it is your choice. It is in your power whether to say "yes" or "no". Use it honestly and thoughtfully and if you need to say "no", say it with confidence, there is no need to feel bad or selfish.
When you say 'no', be respectful, and remember saying 'yes' just because you can't bear the pain is not going to help in the long-term.

How to Say 'No' with a 'Yes'

Here is the tactic I use when saying "no". I try to negotiate. This way both people can win. I show interest in the other persons needs, and explain my limitations. The goal when saying yes is to create 'a win win' situation. Negotiate a solution that appeals to everyone.
Please share your experience saying "no" to people.

  • No isn't always an objection to ideas. It is about communicating that your life is headed in a different direction and it isn't possible for you to help.
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