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How To Say "No" Effectively - Part 2
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We were talking about the importance of learning How to Say “No” effectively in Part One. But now how do you go about it?

I enjoy helping my clients with their limits and boundaries involving their bosses, parents, children, husbands/wives or other people or situations. Often I start with what they would really like to say and then work with processing the statement. This means diving into the thoughts and feelings entangled in the difficulty. That leads to either softening the intensity of the answer or being more grounded and truthful.

Sometimes people don’t say “No” at the time something happens because they have a charge behind the answer. At this point the only way they feel they would be able to say "No" is in some inappropriate fashion, probably leading with the anger. Instead, they don’t speak and feel frozen.  Then they say nothing, and seethe and build up resentment. Or they let the anger fly and create a more difficult conflict by overreacting from the past baggage.

When we look at what is behind the anger and explore all the other feelings, we have a chance to draw clear boundaries and create healthy relationships. Part of clearing up the sticky stuff in the emotional charge is to look at questions like:

  • What is the fear about?
  • Who in your past either didn’t have boundaries or wouldn’t let you have them? Can you let the fear speak?

If you are able to trace the charge behind your reaction to this original situation or an earlier one and process these old feelings, you can become clearer in your communications.

Saying "No" Can be Freeing

Learning to say no effectively, open-heartedly, and calmly brings such freedom. Once you understand, process and let go of the historical charge (that you feel behind the force of the feeling) you will feel freer to decide your answer. Then you are truly in choice.

Using Active Listening

Using active listening can be helpful when telling someone that you really can’t do something.

Here’s an example: I know that you would like for me to do X but right now I’m not able to do that.

Here's a different example: Your boss makes a request that you can’t do and you say, “I can understand why you need this done but I can’t do this today… right now… I can do it by (this date) next week". Or "I think so-in-so might be able to help or even do this better". In this instance, you help the other person problem solve to get it done.

There Are Many Good Reasons to Say "No"

Another time you might face someone’s request and know that you must say "No". You might ask yourself, “How can I listen to someone’s request and still say "No"?’ Some people find themselves avoiding the person so they don’t have to confront the situation.

Saying "No" to someone can be very empowering to both you and them:

  • Maybe they don’t really need your help and will feel good about themselves when they do it alone.
  • Maybe you are rescuing them from something that is hard for them. 
  • Maybe they do need help but it’s not in your best interest to do it.
  • Maybe they have to find their own way or find someone else to help them.
  • Maybe you must say no because it is best for you and let the cards fall where they may.

Depending on who is asking, what they need and when they want it, there may be times that you have to compromise with your "No." Most of us err on one side or the other so make sure you are not being too rigid in your boundaries or to compliant. When you are able to say "No" assertively rather than aggressively, both you and the people around you will feel empowered to be who they truly are. “Yes” and “No” will flow from you more self assuredly.

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Anndee       Posted: 11/17/2011 9:40:49 PM

I loved these ideas, saying no is very difficult for a lot of people! It takes a lot of bravery to say NO. To stand up for what you feel is right. I loved this site - it takes saying NO to higher levels - of love! Thank you

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