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We've heard some assertiveness training declare, "Just say no!"
Well, if people could 'just say no' they'd already be doing it. Saying no is really hard if you haven't practised doing it or if everything in you says, "I can't possibly do that!"
What if you could say no without ever using the word?
What if saying no didn't feel as though you were being selfish or ungrateful?
What if saying no didn't offend anyone or put anyone's nose out of joint. We know that that's often the main reason people don't say no - they're concerned about how other people will react.
Indeed, most of the time they imagine how other people will react and then believe what they have imagined is true. It certainly keeps them from saying no when that's exactly what they do want to say.
So how can you say no without even using the word?
One of things that people who are bad at saying no are usually very good at doing is apologising.
If you're one of these people, you'll know what we mean - you apologise for just about everything.
OK, so let's say you're already good at apologising, then one of the things you can do is to over-apologise when you want to say no.
Kind of like this:
"I really wish I could stay late tonight. I'm so sorry I won't be able to. I really am sorry, I feel as though I'm letting you down. I really wish I could help out, but I just can't."
Another way of saying no without actually saying the word is to do what we call 'buying time'.
Buying time means that rather than saying a blunt no, or alternatively, saying yes before you've even thought what you'd really like to do, you say something like,
"I need to think about that, I'll get back to you later.'
"That's very interesting, I'm right in the middle of working on another project so I'll give you my answer in a couple of hours."
If you are someone who likes to be accommodating you may feel uncomfortable saying no because you won't look helpful.
In this case another way of saying no is to offer solutions without actually taking on the problem; this includes knowing a man or woman who can...in other words, suggesting someone else who could help
"I'd really like to help out but I won't be able to this time, however, I know that Dave is quite knowledgeable in this area."
Whatever technique you use, it's important to practise as much as possible and one of the best ways to practise is when you aren't in the line of fire.
By this we mean - don't wait till your back is against the wall and you feel under pressure.
Look for situations where you can try out something new when it doesn't really matter whether you say yes or no.
When you feel stressed failure will be a real set-back.
However, if you practise when the stakes are low you have more chance of success and will feel a lot better about taking risks when the stakes are high.
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