How To Say No And Mean It

Specific techniques for how to say no and for breaking the habit of automatically saying yes to every request you receive.

Do you seem to spend most of your time trying to back out of commitments you can't believe you made the first place? Do you tend to say yes when someone asks for a ride to somewhere that's not on your way home, or agree to write an extra report at work when you're already swamped?

Make no mistake: saying yes when you really want to say no can be the bane of your life. But this behaviour is esentially a habit, and habits can be broken. It'll take a firm resolve and some persistence, but it can be done.

Here's how.

Think before you say yes

Many people find themselves automatically saying yes to almost any demand made of them. From "do you have a minute?" to "can you help me find my socks?" - there are millions of routine requests for help aimed directly at

the people who always say yes. And you know why?

Because they've established a reputation throughout their circles of friends and colleagues for being "helpful" and "available". Of course, another way of describing a person who demonstrates this automatic and indiscriminate helping behaviour is as a "pushover"!

But you can stop automatically saying yes when all and sundry come to you with their special needs. The key is to force yourself to hesitate. Bite your tongue and take a deep breath. Allow yourself a few seconds to actually ponder the nature of the request. DO you want to agree to this proposal, or is your stomach churning at the thought, while a voice inside your head screams 'PLEASE - SAY NO!"

Listen to your reaction. If you don't want to say yes, weigh up the pros and cons of the situation. If saying no is going to trash a friendship forever or get you fired, you might want to consider answering in the affirmative this once. But if saying yes will tie you down to wasting an

entire precious day of your weekend with someone you don't even particularly like, it's time to learn to use the 'n' word.

So how do I actually say no?

Because you've fallen into the habit of saying yes, you're now faced with the task of re-educating everyone you know about what to expect of you. For a long time, you've been the first port of call when someone needs a hand or some moral support. In a way, you can't blame your friends and

colleagues for making the assumption that you're permanently available. After all, that's what you've taught them to expect. Until now.

Start letting people know that you're actually a lot busier than you've been letting on. For instance, when Deidre from Accounts drops by and asks if you're free to spend Saturday afternoon going shopping, look her in the eye, smile brightly, and say:

"Sorry, I've already got plans. I've got so much to do this weekend, I don't know how I'm going to fit it all in."

By the time you've run just about any variation on this approach past the people you'd rather say no to, they will realize that maybe you're NOT quite so available, and move onto the next easy target. The more persistent time-wasters might try to coerce you into saying yes a couple more times,

but stick to your guns and they too will eventually lose interest.

Remember, these demanding people are selfishly gobbling up your most precious possessions: your time and energy. Once you've got the hang of replacing your automatic yes answer with a more realistic response, you'll find that you have your life back again. Just imagine your new future:

having time to spend with those you love, and no more feelings of anger and guilt as you stop wasting your spare time with those people who liked you so much better when you couldn't say no.

© High Speed Ventures 2011