Tuesday 4 June 2019

Learn The Happy Art Of Saying No

*This is a collaborative post*

Two simple letters. One syllable. 'No' might be easy to learn to write, but when it comes to saying it, most of us struggle rather more. It's deeply ingrained in most of us, especially women, that saying no is a bad thing. Blame evolutionary psychology. Humans are by nature social animals, who evolved to live cooperatively in packs. This requires social agreement and co-operation - making decisions, perhaps at personal cost, for the overall good of the tribe. Millennia have taught us that working together and helping each other out is security could even make the difference between life and death - and saying 'No' is a slap in the face to this. We have learnt to say yes, even when it doesn't suit us, even when it goes against our own wishes and needs. Yes is the default position. But when we automatically go with yes, we can over commit ourselves, losing energy, time and finances in the process. We are not being mindful when we say yes without thinking. 'No' feels illicit, but it's actually a powerful tool which can give us back control of our own destiny - if only we learn to use it properly.

Learn How To Decline Gracefully

Often we struggle with saying no because we're worried about appearing rude, but in fact there are ways to decline something with grace. In fact, Coco Chanel herself said that 'Elegance is refusal'. If in doubt, the best policy is to reduce the amount you speak. The less you explain, the better. When we over-explain, it makes us look weaker and insecure in our decisions - and it allows an opening for other people to try and compromise our will and find cracks to try and change our minds. Keep it very simple, - 'I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me' is a good catch-all polite refusal. You don't need to elaborate any further. Don't apologise or start to try and justify what you're saying - you simply don't need to. Having confidence in your own decision is key.

Buy Some Time

If you are genuinely unsure about a request, play for time. You don't have to make a decision right away, especially if you think you may be tempted to say yes by default. Avoid stress and retreating into a grey haze by simply deferring, again in a concise way - 'I need to check my schedule/funds/plans. I'll get back to you soon'. It is better not to take too long to give your final answer, it the other person may start to hound you which can make you waver. Again, whether you deliver your decision on the phone, in person or over email be brief but firm - don't apologise or add lots of qualifiers. This tactic can be useful if you find yourself getting pressured into over committing a lot of the time.

You Are Enough

Sometimes, the three little words above are all we need to hear, especially if we're feeling like our self-confidence is low. Saying yes to other people's demands in the hope that it will make us a better person somehow is wrong. Saying yes all the time doesn't make you kind - in fact, it can be unintentionally cruel by taking you away from other people and commitments which are more deserving of your time. Equally, guaranteeing that you have time for you and your own self-care isn't selfish, it's necessary in order for you to carry on helping others and living your life to the fullest.

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