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Why do some people say yes when they mean no?
You may be tempted to say yes to someone when you would like to say no because of fear of offending the other person. It may also be that you do not want to feel like the odd person out or a killjoy
So how do we go about saying no (in life situations) if we are not used to doing it?
Be prepared to say no. If you know you are going into a situation where you think someone will ask something of you that you don’t want to do then be prepared. Think of no as being your first response and yes as being one you will give if the suggestion is more appealing that you first thought.
Try saying, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now.” Use a sympathetic, but firm tone. If pressured as to why, reply that it doesn’t fit with your schedule, and change the subject.
Most reasonable people will accept this as an answer, so if someone keeps pressuring you, they are the ones being rude not you. In this situation it is OK to just repeat, “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t fit with my schedule,” and change the subject, or even walk away if you have to.
If you’re uncomfortable being so firm, or are dealing with pushy people, it’s OK to say, “Let me think about it and get back to you, but I don’t think I will manage to do that.” This gives you a chance to review your schedule, as well as your feelings about saying “yes” to another commitment. Do a cost-benefit analysis, and then get back to them with a yes or no.
Most importantly, this tactic helps you avoid letting yourself be pressured into over-scheduling your life and causing you stress.
If you would really like to do what they’re requesting, but don’t have the time (or are having trouble accepting that you don’t), it’s fine to say, “I can’t do this, but I can help by ………..” and mention a lesser commitment that you can make.
This way you’ll still be partially involved, but it will be on your own terms.
Here are a few tips on saying no:
- Be firm not defensive or overly apologetic.
- Be polite This gives the signal that you are sympathetic, but will not easily change your mind if pressured.
- If you decide to tell the person you’ll get back to them, be matter-of-fact and not too promising.
- If you lead people to believe you’ll likely say “yes” later, they’ll be more disappointed with a later “no.” So when you tell them you will get back to them with an answer intimate that the probable answer will be no
- If asked for an explanation, remember that you really don’t owe anyone one. But if pushed then you can use “It doesn’t fit with my schedule”.
Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. This means that whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. So even if you somehow can fit a new commitment into your schedule, if it’s not more important than what you would have to give up to do it (including time for relaxation and self care), you really don’t have the time in your schedule.