How to Say No and Remain Confident

Ways to Say No and still Remain Confident and composed

Saying “no” is rarely an easy or pleasant thing to do and yet it is something we all have to confront from time to time. You may worry about what the other person will think about you if you decline them. Perhaps you fear repercussions. Perhaps you simply don’t like disappointing people. It can be difficult to say no without feelings of guilt arising afterwards.  But if you don’t say no to something you would rather not do, how would that make you feel in the long run? Will you find yourself caving in all the time? Will you become more submissive? Would you like to know how to say no with confidence?

The first thing you have to remember is that you have every right to decline to do something you don’t feel good or comfortable about. With that in mind, when you say “no”, don’t take your time in doing so. Don’t give the other person the impression that you can be talked round if they persist. If you are worried about seeming abrupt, provide a simple explanation but don’t overdo it, otherwise the other person may start looking for ways to compromise and insist that you say yes eventually. Let the other person know why you can’t do whatever they’re asking and leave it at that.

It is important that you remain firm when saying no and don’t be tempted to change your mind just because the other person seems uncomfortable or upset. If they are a true friend or an understanding person, they will accept your no and move on. If not, you will know that you are better off without them in your life. Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish and put your own needs first. It may sound strange at first, but if you’re getting used to the idea of saying no and an answer from you is not immediately required, you may find it helpful to rehearse your answer beforehand.

Sometimes, you can substitute the word “no” for something a little less direct. If the situation is appropriate, consider using alternatives like “maybe later” or “not right now” or perhaps “let me think about it”. If you’re getting used to saying no, these will give you some extra time to decide on the most appropriate way of declining the request more directly. Of course, in some cases, it may be all you need to do. However, don’t expect to use “later” long-term, otherwise you may eventually give the impression that you’re untrustworthy.

In some cases, you may find it easier to say no if you understand the tactics people use in order to get you to agree to their request. This is particularly useful if you are confronted by a door-to-door salesman or anyone else trying to sell you a product. Manipulation is often used as part of their sales pitch. Think, for example, of the sort of language used by charities to obtain donations.

It may be something like: “Would you like to donate £10, £20, £50 a month?” etc. Or how about “We’re only asking you for a certain amount per month”? This is a classic example of social pressure. If you are aware of this from the beginning, you stand a better chance of being able to anticipate and ignore it. Don’t let anyone manipulate your feelings and coerce you into agreeing to do something you don’t want to do.

If you’re in a work situation and your employer asks you to take on more tasks than you feel you’re able to carry out, you may find it helpful to ask a question of your own. A good example of this is to say you’re prepared to do the work but you will need a certain amount of time to do them properly and to then ask what your priority should be. Your employer or supervisor may then ask you to do only the tasks which are most important and assign the others elsewhere.

If the person you have to say no to is someone with whom you want to maintain a positive relationship, you could offer an alternative solution. For example, if someone wants you to work with them on a specific project, you could introduce them to someone else who may be interested and who may be appropriate for the job. If you are invited to somewhere noisy and you are averse to loud noise, suggest that you meet or go somewhere that is quieter. Where this option is possible, it softens the impact of your no and lessens the guilt you feel for having to say it.

Depending on the situation, you may find it useful to adopt appropriate body language to indicate an unwillingness to say yes. Folding your arms is generally regarded as a defensive and guarded posture to adopt to signify disinterest. Turning your torso away so you’re not entirely facing the other person is another common physical method of indicating no, as is pointing your toes away.

If you can convince the other person that you are unlikely to accede to their request before they have even posed the question, you may find yourself escaping having to say no at all. And even if you are asked, you will most likely find it much easier to say no.

In most cases, saying no is a difficult and unenviable task. But so long as you remain polite but firm with your no, offer a brief explanation if you choose to but don’t be too elaborate, understand and anticipate any manipulative tactics that may be employed and be ready to offer an alternate option, if possible, you should find the task much easier to perform. If you are asked to do something you don’t want to do, never be afraid of putting your own needs first.


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