The Power of No
Why you should say it more often.
By Kelly Koepke
Many women, have a hard time saying “no.” We’re often taught to be people pleasers, don’t want to disappoint or rock the boat, making declining requests difficult.
But saying “no” to things we’d prefer not to do — whether that’s volunteering at the latest school event, taking another work project or even going to dinner with friends — can be bad for us! We can feel invisible, like our wishes don’t matter or that we’re being taken advantage of.
Kelly Chisholm, board-certified counselor and owner of Albuquerque Family Counseling, points to our fast-paced culture as exacerbating the stress of constant “yessing.”
“Technology — texting, emailing and social media — forces us to make decisions quickly. That means there’s a lot more ‘yessing’ going on; it’s easy to reply without thinking. But when we say ‘yes’ too often, we start to feel resentment and stress with yet another thing added to our plates.”
Saying “no” is more intentional because we are thinking about our own needs. From the recipient’s perspective, the person saying “no” has self respect, self esteem, probably has goals and clearly set boundaries, she adds.
That’s not what goes through our heads, though. Brain science tells us that there is a reason we don’t want to say “no” — it can
open an emotional rabbit hole. We may fear disappointing or hurting someone, causing a problem or somehow jeopardizing a relationship.
According to Psychology Today, there’s a different neurological process going on for the recipient of the “no.” We’re wired to respond to “no” more strongly than “yes,” in what is called the brain’s negativity bias. Simply put, “no” hurts the person who hears it, no matter how gently it’s given.
Saying “no” gives your “yesses” more value and credibility. It sets a good example of boundaries, and teaches people how to treat you. It may even give someone else the opportunity to shine. For example, a business owner should say “no” to doing tasks her employees can. That gives her the opportunity to say “yes” to other things that will grow the company.
“We coach our clients with some phrases that allow them to take a step back and think about the question,” continues Chisholm. “Saying ‘no’ reduces their anxiety and stress because they feel more in control of their schedule and themselves.”
By being selective, we save ourselves from the stress and resentment of doing things we don’t want to do. We can do it gracefully and with the full knowledge that we are doing what’s best for us.
Saying “NO” Gracefully
Practice Standard Phrases
“I need to think about it,” or “I’d rather say ‘no’ now than disappoint you later,” or “I understand you’re in a bind, and I’d help if I could.”
Don’t Give a Reason
Stating why you’re declining gives the other person an opening to answer your objection. Don’t let them.
Stand Your Ground
Persistent people will ask again. By the second time you decline, most will back off.
Offer an Alternative
Choose something more preferable to you — a coffee date instead of dinner or a movie.
A quote from Mahatma Ghandi: “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”