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WHY AND HOW TO SAY NO

Ms. Samiksha Jain 96% (659 ratings)
Hypnotherapist, DCS, BSIC, Advanced Trainee of Transactional Analysis, Advanced Skills in Counselling
Psychologist, Bangalore  •  10 years experience
WHY AND HOW TO SAY NO

In our Indian culture, we are taught to be polite and respectful especially with elders, whatever the cost to us. We must be polite with our guests and other relationships and at the workplace. Women must be never say no their in laws if they want to be happy in their married life. Employees should never say no to their bosses or managers or else they will lose their jobs.

There are 6 main reasons why people hesitate in saying NO:

1. You want to help. You are a kind soul at heart. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.
2. Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude and disrespectful.
3. Wanting to be agreeable. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement. So you confirm to others’ request.
4. Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her. This might lead to an ugly confrontation. Even if there isn’t, there might be friction created which might lead to negative consequences in the future.
5. Fear of lost opportunities. Perhaps you are worried saying no means closing doors. For example, one of my clients’ wife was asked to transfer to another department in her company. Since she liked her team, she didn’t want to shift. However, she didn’t want to say no as she felt it would affect her promotion opportunities in the future.
6. Not burning bridges. Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. It might lead to bridges being burned and relationships severed.

Well these reasons are not true if you are familiar with the art of saying NO. Remember those people who said no to you and you didn't feel bad about it. The trick lies in when and how to say NO.
At the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Saying no is your prerogative.

7 SIMPLE WAYS TO SAY NO
Rather than avoid it altogether, it’s all about learning the right way to say no. After I began to say no to others, I realized it’s really not as bad as I thought. The other people were very understanding and didn’t put up any resistance. Really, the fears of saying no are just in our mind. If you are not sure how to do so, here are 7 simple ways for you to say no. Use the method that best meets your needs in the situation.

The art lies in using appropriate body language, tone and proper timing. Coming across as genuine, warm and friendly will help to set the tone of the interaction and you will be the winner.

1. “I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
If you are too busy to engage in the request/offer, this will be applicable. This lets the person know your plate is full at the moment, so he/she should hold off on this as well as future requests. If it makes it easier, you can also share what you’re working on so the person can understand better. I use this when I have too many commitments to attend to.

2. “Now’s not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. How about we reconnect at X time?”
It’s common to get sudden requests for help when you are in the middle of something. Sometimes I get phone calls from friends or associates when I’m in a meeting or doing important work. This method is a great way to (temporarily) hold off the request. First, you let the person know it’s not a good time as you are doing something. Secondly, you make known your desire to help by suggesting another time (at your convenience). This way, the person doesn’t feel disappointed or rejected.

3. “I’d love to do this, but …”
I often use this as it’s a gentle way of breaking no to the other party. It’s encouraging as it lets the person know you like the idea (of course, only say this if you do like it) and there’s nothing wrong about it. I often use this line when I get invitations to late night dinners and parties. Their ideas are absolutely great, but I can’t take part due to other reasons such as prior commitments or different needs.

4. “Let me think about it first and I’ll get back to you.”
This is more like a “Maybe” than a straight out “No”. If you are interested but you don’t want to say ‘yes’ just yet, use this. Sometimes I’m pitched a great idea which meets my needs, but I want to hold off on committing as I want some time to think first. There are times when new considerations pop in and I want to be certain of the decision before committing myself. If the person is sincere about the request, he/she will be more than happy to wait a short while. Specify a date / time-range (say, in 1-2 weeks) where the person can expect a reply.

If you’re not interested in what the person has to offer at all, don’t lead him/her on. Use methods #5, #6 or #7 which are definitive.

5. “This doesn’t meet my needs now but I’ll be sure to keep you in mind.”
If someone is pitching a deal/opportunity which isn’t what you are looking for, let him/her know straight-out that it doesn’t meet your needs. Otherwise, the discussion can drag on longer than it should. It helps as the person know it’s nothing wrong about what he/she is offering, but that you are looking for something else. At the same time, by saying you’ll keep him/her in mind, it signals you are open to future opportunities.

6. “I’m not the best person to help on this. Why don’t you try X?”
If you are being asked for help in something which you (i) can’t contribute much to (ii) don’t have resources to help, let it be known they are looking at the wrong person. If possible, refer them to a lead they can follow-up on – whether it’s someone you know, someone who might know someone else, or even a department. I always make it a point to offer an alternate contact so the person doesn’t end up in a dead end. This way you help steer the person in the right place.

7. “No, I can’t.”
The simplest and most direct way to say no. We build up too many fears in our mind to saying no. As I shared earlier in this article, these fears are self-created and they are not true at all. Don’t think so much about saying no and just say it outright. You’ll be surprised when the reception isn’t half as bad as what you imagined it to be.

THE BENEFITS OF SAYING NO:

Overcommitting by trying to cram too many activities into too little time leads to stress. We are much more likely to get sick when we are stressed. And chronic stress can cause serious health risks including depression and heart attacks.

1. OPEN COMMUNICATION: this way you are able to tell people who you really are and what is your capabilities and responsibilities towards yourself. This fosters for honest communication. Other people also see you as a human with virtues and limitations. This builds genuine relationships. Nowadays working women are clear about asking their husbands to pitch in towards house work and husbands are open about wanting a working spouse to support the finances. This creates space for pooling our strengths and working in collaboration with each other.

2. BOUNDARIES: with this practice you will be able to take care of those people who like to push or boss around other people to get their way. Drinking, smoking, drugs are common ways that children and adults with weaker personal boundaries, get drawn into. Learning to say no protects you from potential damage.

3. TIME FOR YOUR GOALS: You make out time for what is important to you and your vision of life. By saying no to late night parties, I am able to eat less junk, get a good sleep and get up early to exercise. Saying no to unrelated office presentations gets you time to spend with family.

Learn to say no to requests that don’t meet your needs, and once you do that you’ll find how easy it actually is. You’ll get more time for yourself, your work and things that are most important to you
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