There is a good reason if “No” is one of the first words we learn to pronounce since childhood. In fact, children go through a phase of denial saying no to everything, without going into details. In this way they reaffirm their identity. In this regard, discovering the existence of no and its implications is a great event for the child, because he realizes having the right to decide of his life, even if initially are only small decisions.
In the assertiveness training learning to say no is also important to keep our emotional balance. Life opens us continually new opportunities that we can grasp, it tempts us with opportunities that are sometimes not the most suitable for us. In these cases, saying no means to be able to stay on the path we have chosen, focused on our goals.
Also, sometimes saying no is the only way we have to defend our rights and keep controlled the people who are willing to violate our freedom, appropriating of our time and acting as real emotional vampire.
Even in a professional environment it is fundamental to know how to handle the art of denial, especially for not being overloaded of tasks that do not belong to us and not to make commitments that we can not fulfill. Obviously, we must learn to say no respecting the others and maintaining good relationships.
Setting limits is an expression of self-esteem
1. The “categorical No”
Sometimes you meet people offering you projects or making requests for which you know the answer: an absolute no. When you’ve made a very clear decision and you know what you’ve been asked or offered is not for you, because it can harm you or goes against your values, you must not be afraid to respond with a categorical no.
It is true that saying no is complicated, but remember that if you dislike something and it can harm you in some way, there is no reason to do it. In fact, sometimes saying no is an expression of self-love, of self-respect.
Setting limits is not negative, it is the expression of a person who knows what he wants and knows how far he’s willing to yield. In addition, a sincere no, instead of a useless hesitation, is also an expression of respect for the other person because will save him time allowing to quickly refocus his research. If we are not willing to do something is better to say it right away.
2. The “half No”
It is not always necessary to say no, but sometimes we are not willing to do everything that asks the other person. In fact, such situations are very common in our daily lives and, because ultimately, we tend to give in, are the main responsible for the fact that we involve ourselves in projects or relationships that we don’t like.
In that case, you can say a half “No”. That is, you can tell this person that you are willing to help him in in part, you can satisfy his request only up to a certain point, but you’re not willing to go further.
You can take profit of this moment to tell him exactly what are your limits and conditions. To the other person must be clear your position respect to his request, so that he does not claim what you did not compromised to do.
Another option that provides for the half “No” is the negotiation. For example, you may not agree with the initial request, but if the other person will change some details you may accept. In fact, it is a very assertive strategy because this way everyone wins.
3. The “maybe later No”
If something does not interest you, you better say it right away. In this way you are sincere and respectful of the other person. But there are times when we simply are not willing to accept a given proposal, at least at the moment, but we could do it later.
In this case, it is best not to let the others press us making it clear that we are not available now, but maybe later we could accept to be involved in the project or meeting the request. It is to understand clearly that we do not care it because we have no time at the moment and not because we have not the courage to say no.
For example, a person could propose you a very interesting professional project, but your current problems keep you from accepting it. In that case, you’re really interested in the proposal, but you can not compromise immediately. The ideal would be for both sides to agree on a reasonable period of time, after which give your final answer.
Why we are reluctant to say no?
– Because we’re afraid to be considered closed and rigid people, because in our society saying yes is associated with greater flexibility and openness, when sometimes it only hides a deep lack of character.
– Because it is a habit that we learned as children, when we thought that saying yes meant getting the approval of others, especially parents, who used to get mad when we said no.
– Because we’re afraid to burn bridges behind us, eliminating an escape route that could be useful in the future.
– Because we’re afraid of the reaction of others or to hurt them with our negative thinking that they will not take it well.
– Because we’re worried about being accused of selfishness, when in fact we are only defending our right to set limits that protect us.
However, saying no is a right, especially when other people claim to have our time and resources to their liking. In fact, sometimes saying no is a matter of psychological survival, not of selfishness.
The key is to say no in a way that does not harm others. And to do this, sometimes it is necessary to explain our reasons.
Remember that a sincere no is also a way to show respect for the person, and it is always preferable to a yes that you do not successfully satisfy and of which you will have to apologise for.