Having the Confidence to Say No

If you can’t say no, using the excuse that ‘that is just who you are’, you might be just running away from confrontations or feeling fear for being judged by other people. Both situations reflect a low level of confidence and self-esteem.

Andrea knew it was just one of those things she hadn’t mastered. And she was so used to it that most times she had answered before the question was asked. And she had no idea how she felt about it. Because it was easier to get on with it than to ask questions.

Andrea can’t say no.

She didn’t know why and she didn’t want to think about it.

But of course, sitting opposite me, meant she got that question: ‘What is holding you back saying no?’

She came up with a mixture of reasons:
  • I don’t want to upset them
  • I am worried they feel rejected
  • Need to answer now, there is pressure
  • I think it is the right thing to do
  • It is expected of me
  • I know others think it is the right thing to do
  • Hate to disappoint
  • I don’t have a good enough reason to say no
  • I have to help
  • Others said yes already and I can’t be the odd one out
  • I am the only one who can help
  • If I say no they won’t like me
  • If I say no they don’t want to be friends anymore
  • They will love me for it
  • It is not a big deal
  • They will like me as a person
  • I feel good about myself

Then I prompted the next question: ‘What is the price for saying yes?’

  • It will take time, so I can’t do something I really like
  • We need to have a take-away
  • I will be tired
  • My partner won’t be happy
  • My dogs will get a shorter walk
  • It gets in the way of my own goals
  • It will cost money
  • I am irritable
  • It feels as if I am rowing someone else’s boat
  • I feel guilty if it goes wrong
  • I get stressed
  • It annoys me if I don’t get positive feedback
  • I feel flat as my heart isn’t in it
  • Feeling manipulated
  • I am frustrated with myself

TIP on how to start learning to say no

Notice how carefully I phrase that? It would be a baby step in the right direction. When a request has been put your way, step back and answer: let me back to you.’ It is a way of buying time and you will need that time to take yourself to the range of questions above. Consider each answer and take it seriously. Don’t dismiss any of them. Then make an informed decision and give your answer.

Having the Confidence to Say No: The four steps to make saying no easier:

  1. Let me get back to you – you buy some thinking time
  2. What is holding me back – discover your reasons why you don’t want to say yes
  3. What is the price I pay – discover the impact of saying yes
  4. Here is my answer – informing and easy to commit to, regardless if it is a yes or a no

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