No. No. No.. See how it easy it is? It’s just one word… or is it? Saying no when it is most needed can be difficult. The word gets stuck in your throat and your thoughts about the consequences stop you. Saying no is not easy, but it is a crucial skill – yes I am saying skill – that you need to learn if you don’t want to spend your life getting pushed over by everyone else. So time to start putting yourself first, are you ready?
Why should you learn to say no assertively? The ability to say no is about being assertive. To be assertive means being able to express yourself in a clear, direct and appropriate way and valuing your thoughts and feelings. You recognize your strengths and weaknesses and accept yourself for who you are. A crucial part of assertive behaviour is positive thinking.
Constantly bringing yourself down will not help you in expressing yourself assertively. You, yourself, must see your thoughts and feelings as important and only then can you make others see what you have to say as valid too. It has been found that behaving in an assertive way during stressful situations, prevented people from feeling anxious. That is the first step when you are working towards any change in your life – accepting the status quo. Do not judge yourself for not being good enough, don’t beat yourself up for not being able to say no. Accept the place where you are now and work on improving your current situation.
Saying “yes” and “no” is the most basic way of establishing boundaries with others in our lives. These two simple words define who we are and what we stand for. Nonetheless, there are many reason why we find it difficult to speak our mind. If you want to say no in a certain situation but don’t, it means you are putting the other person’s needs above your own.
Why is it so hard to say no? We often consider the feelings of others much more than our own. Let’s take Becky, she was invited to her colleague Tim’s birthday party a couple of months ago and RSVP-ed yes. The week of the party, however, turned out to be very busy for her and Becky realised she would rather catch up with everything she has on her plate.
So let’s take a look at Becky’s thought process behind considering rejecting Tim’s invitation. Becky is scared to say no to Tim because she doesn’t want him to feel rejected. If she says no he might not like her anymore or he might not invite her to another party again. She is sure Tim would come to her birthday party, so it is only fair is she comes to his, despite her large workload. Lastly, if Becky did say no, there would be less people in Tim’s party. A lot of people are busy these days and what if no one shows up? Becky would feel sorry to Tim and because she cares about him maybe it is better if she goes after all…
How to say no assertively Luckily, Becky knows a thing or two about assertive communication, so she starts out by saying “no” clearly. Without making any extensive justification or excuses, Becky gives her reason without burying Tim in a ton of unnecessary information. She knows she has the right to say no. A simple “Sorry Tim, I will not be able to come tonight, I really need to focus on getting this project finished.” will get the message across. Becky knows that by rejecting Tim’s invitation she is not rejecting him as a person but that she is exercising her right to make a choice.
A part of assertive communication is being prepared to take responsibility for what you say. If you are not comfortable or sure about making a decision, ask more questions and feel free to say “I’ll let you know” to give yourself more time to think things through. Saying no is a crucial part of being true to yourself and standing up for what you want. By failing to say no you place someone else’s importance above your own, which can lead to your dissatisfaction and resentment of the other person. Consider this – by saying “no” to Tim’s invitation, Becky actually said “yes” to herself and what she wanted. You can shift the negative way we view the word “no” and transforming the situation into an opportunity of personal growth by saying “yes” to yourself.
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Being able to say no is an inseparable part of building confidence and having a healthy self-esteem. You are your own priority and it is your responsibility to fight for what is right for you. No one else is going to do it for you #spoileralert. By saying no and talking to others in an assertive way, your communication becomes more honest. It’s about being true to who you are and not being afraid to stand up for yourself. It’s about having respect for yourself.