Saying no can be one of the hardest things for people to do. People get accustomed to saying yes, because saying no feels impossible, because they do not want to make others feel bad, because they owe someone something, the list goes on. Other times you feel pressured into saying yes due to the person’s persuasiveness and lack of respect for your boundaries. Learning to say no has great benefits. It is an essential part of establishing boundaries.
There are certain things to consider when you are trying to say no to someone. Take time to think about why you are wanting to say no. What is the reason behind you saying no? What is it about this person’s particular request or invite that you feel inclined to say no to? You have to know why you are saying no; this is part of learning to recognize your emotions, why you are feeling a certain way, etc. Is it because this person’s request requires something that is going to stretch you out thin? Is it because of the person? Is this person constantly asking you to overstep your limits and you are finally tired of it? It is because you simply do not want to do it, there is no particular reason, you just do not feel like it? Knowing what you want is part of communication. It makes it easier to say no when you know why you are saying no, because then you are able to communicate why when someone asks for an explanation. This also helps in building your confidence and assertiveness skills. What’s more empowering than knowing what you want and how to communicate it?
Become familiar with whom it is hard to say no to. You will be better equipped to say no when you are aware of who has a hard time taking no for an answer and with whom it is difficult to say no to. You can spend more time practicing what you are going to say, how you are going to say it and how assertive you are going to have to be. Practice in front of the mirror – this might be uncomfortable or awkward, but it is going to help you get comfortable. You can also practice with someone you trust, do some role-play. If you are aware of how this person typically responds, then it makes it easier to know what you are going to say and a great way to be prepared for that is by practicing “what if” situations. Think of this as your game plan.
Be firm with your no, stand your ground. It is not going to be easy in some cases. People are persistent so you will have to be just as persistent. Just like they are not taking no as an answer, you are not going to give in to a yes.
You are allowed to be selfish when it comes to not doing something you do not want to do. It is going to be difficult at times, you may feel bad, like you are letting them down, but you cannot spend your whole life putting your needs/wants aside to be complicit to others. There comes a point when you must put your foot down.