How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
How to say No
An important way of managing stress is knowing that you can say no and then knowing when and how to say it.
Know you can refuse
The first step in refusal is to know that you can say 'No'. Some people are so keen to please others they not only find saying 'no' difficult, they even believe they cannot say 'no'.
This can be a particular problem in the workplace where it can seem impossible to refuse requests from senior people, but it is possible. You have only a certain amount of time and knowledge, and pushing these can affect other things you are doing.
Likewise in many social situations it can seem difficult to refuse. Social norms tell you that you must agree, but you always have a choice.
So first realize that 'No' is always an option.
Decide to refuse
The next step is to decide to refuse. You may say 'yes' on some occasions and on others you can say 'no'.
When asked to do something or agree with something, first consider whether this is reasonable. Also consider whether you have time to comply and whether you consider the request to be acceptable or not. Then consider whether you want to agree.
Remember, the choice is yours, and yours alone. Even for the most reasonable request, you have the option and ability to say no.
The simplest way of refusing is just to say no. That's it. Just no. If pushed, you can just say something like 'Because I have decide I do not want to.'
You do not have to give reason for your refusal. Remember that just as you can say no, you can also refuse to be drawn on why you have chosen to say no.
The ADO method breaks the refusal down into three parts:
First acknowledge the request, showing that you understand what they have asked for and accepting that it is ok for them to ask this.
Next turn down the request. You can apologize or just say no. Whatever method you use, do make sure that it is clear that you are refusing. Saying something softened like 'I don't think I want to' leaves the door open for further pressure.
The third step is to make counter offer, such as '...but I could visit next week'. This gives the other person a consolation prize, something to take away and accept so they can feel they have achieved something at least.
Rather than just saying no, you can refuse unless they give you something in return. So you may say something like 'I may be able to do that but in order to do that I'd like you to...'.
A particular form of the 'not unless' is based on time. It works on the principle that you are busy and that in order to do what has been requested, you will have to stop doing something else. For example, 'Sure, I can run down the shops for you, but then there'll be no time to cook. If you can peel the potatoes and put the chicken in the oven, then we'll still be able to eat tonight.'
Another method is to turn the challenge around and make it a joint problem. Rather than them asking you for something, show that you are concerned for what they want to achieve, then frame the question as one of how you can both work together to find an alternative solution (rather than you just doing what you are told). For example, 'Yes, I agree we should give them a good reception. But rather than tidy up here, maybe we could just go next door? Or maybe take them out? How else could we resolve this?'