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No Means No: Now How Do I Say It?

Image of toddler and dog playing in the grass. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, no, Katherine Broadway

Finding it hard to say "no” is a common problem. People are afraid that they will hurt, disappoint, or anger someone when they say “no”. We underestimate the value to ourselves of saying no, while overestimating the person reaction to whom we say “no”. A number of factors are often left out of the equation, including how you feel, or the personal costs in emotion, time, and stress, just to name a few.

A common reason that we do not say, "No” is because we believe it would be selfish to do so.

One definition of selfish is to be concerned with yourself. The other definition is to be overly concerned with yourself without consideration for others. You need to be selfish to take care of yourself. Without self-care there will be very little of you to give to others. Times when you don’t care about others and only care about yourself does selfish become a negative.

As you are learning to say no, there is something else to keep in mind. People are not wrong in asking you for your time or your help, just as you are not wrong in saying no.

A few pointers as you learn to say “no”:

1.A simple and polite “no” is sufficient.

You are not required to explain yourself when saying no. Be clear and firm. This is “no”, not “maybe”.

2. Not responding to the question at all is an answer as well, and it sends its own message.

Often, this behavior comes across as rude, and it is a surefire way to make people angry.

3. If you need time to build your confidence to say “no”, respond with “let me think about this.

” If you respond in this way, it is important to get back to the person with your decision as quickly as you are able.

4. If an explanation would be helpful, make it brief.

“ I am very busy at this moment” is a sufficient answer.

5. If you have the time and simply do not want to do what is being asked, you are not available.

“I am not available” is a simple, truthful response.

6. At times when your answer is “no,” there might be something you can give.

Offer alternatives - suggest another source of help, or a compromise that also fits with your needs. For example, “ I cannot help you all day Saturday, but I am available on Sunday from 1:00 to 3:00.”

Learning to say no takes time, practice and support. At first, you may have really difficult feelings; however as you begin to say “no” it will become easier. You will gain confidence in your ability to make wise decisions for yourself. “No” will become a valuable word in your vocabulary.

If you want more support in learning how to say “no”, call me at 919-881-2001.

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