Learning How To Say No
It can be a true struggle to know when you want to or need to say no. Saying no is an art form in itself, there are many ways to say no, some are harsh and some are polite and graceful. A potential reason that people would avoid saying no to their friends, their co workers, or their partners is because many people have been conditioned to avoid conflict. Many people are afraid that saying no may imply that they don’t want to get along, or that it may hurt their relationship or their friendships in some way. The result of not saying no is that you could end up over extended, vulnerable, burnt out, or even resentful at yourself or at another person.
Many people realize that they should have said no in retrospect, and they avoid saying no now because they have already agreed to say yes. Annoyance and burnout, within yourself or at another, is a good indicator that you probably want to say no. Other people may say yes most of the time but then realize that they want to be alone, or that they would like to end a relationship that their needs aren’t getting met in.
What I have found with the people that I work with is that saying no can be scary at first, but most people feel empowered and much better when they do say no, even if its for little things. It is true that some relationships may not survive your newfound empowerment, and that maybe you avoiding saying no up until this point is the reason that a friendship has worked. You must ask yourself if you can survive this friendship if the relationship cannot tolerate your needs. Other relationships survive and grow stronger when you start saying no, you may be pleasantly surprised at how well it can go. Basically, being honest about how you feel and what you need can foster a more honest and real relationship, as well as giving others permission to also say no and have needs as well.Here are some light and friendly ways of saying no:
“No thank you (darling, honey, friend).”
“Thank you, but no thank you!”
“I don’t really like that, but it’s ok if you do!”
“I think I’m going to have to say no. Thanks for the offer though.”
“No thank you, but I’m happy to (XYZ) instead.”
“Hmmm. I don’t really want to.”
“That sounds great but I would rather (XYZ)”
“I need to think about it, Let me get back to you.”
“I need something different, This is what I need instead. How can we both get our needs met?”
Saying no can be a creative process. Just like relationships, and making sure that both peoples needs are getting met, can also be a creative process. You deserve to get your needs met and sometimes that takes saying no. I hope that this article can help you begin to notice when you may have different needs or boundaries than those around you.
Bianca Aarons LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco. Bianca’s specialties include attachment, trauma, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, relationship issues, depression issues, couples work and work with teenagers. Learn more about Bianca at www.biancaaarons.com, email her at BiancaAaronsMFT@gmail.com, or call her at (415) 553-5346 to ask any questions or to set up a consultation session.