Sunday, August 14, 2011

How to Say "No"

I have heard from many sources, from my own friends, to articles in women’s magazines, to Oprah, that many women struggle with saying no.  I do not have this problem.  Quite the contrary, I feel that I need to practice saying “Yes” more often.  

Recently a friend of mine asked me if I felt guilty when I say “No.”  Honestly, sometimes I do, for a moment.  But most of the time, I say no for good reasons and my many “Nos” are really just another way of saying “Yes” to something else.  For example, saying to my daughter, “No, you cannot go to this fifth birthday party this month,” may be hard for a second or two where I feel like an evil joy-smasher.  The “No” actually leads straight to a “Yes” to more family time and a more relaxed Mommy.

Some people need the process broken down for them.  How do you say no when you are put on the spot, say when the PTO president calls you to chair the Teacher Appreciation Week or when your neighbor wants you to play the flute for her ferret and clean out the cage each day while she’s in Costa Rica for a month? 

 Here are my 5 simple steps:
·         “That is not going to work for me right now”
·         Stop
·         Repeat
·         Divert
·         Leave

1.       Memorize this line:  “That is not going to work for me right now.”  Practice it.  Cross stitch it into a pillow if you need to, but have it ready in the forefront of your mind.  It works with anything.  Try it.
Person A:  “Kate, can you babysit my eight kids for the day while I get a pedicure and have my false eyelashes replaced?”
Kate:  “Oh, that is not going to work for me right now.”

Person B- “Kate, I am hosting a party for ( __________), do you want to come and feel pressured to buy about $50.00 worth of stuff that you aren’t really interested in?”
Kate:  “Oh, that is not going to work for me right now.”
You get the idea.  The problem people have with this step is that they feel the need to explain themselves.  They feel that they need to have a good reason for saying No.  You don’t.  Your reason is you don’t want to do it. That is enough. 

2.   Stop talking:  Do not explain, do not make excuses, do not lie.  If you need to, count in your head to keep your mouth shut.  Do, “ 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand …” if the silence is killing you.  Or stick an apple your mouth if have one handy. Whatever works, improvise.

3.       Repeat:  “That is not going to work for me right now.” if the person is persistent.  For example, Person A may come back with, “Oh really, because I just really need to get my lashes fixed before the big circus gala and I am just completely out of options!” 
You:  “That is not going to work for me right now.”  Be prepared to repeat your line of refusal.  It will sound robotic to you at first, but stick with it.

4.       Divert attention:  The easiest way to do this is to compliment the person on something.  Like with Person A:  “Oh Sally, you always look gorgeous!  I loved that sequined elephant dress you wore the other day.   Where do find such unique clothes?”  Or forget the compliment and ask them about themselves, “How is the circus business doing in this economy? Are you still swallowing knives?”

5.       Take your leave: Once you have said no and diverted their attention, it is time to get out of Dodge.  The best thing for no novices to do is leave the scene; otherwise you will probably crack under the pressure to say yes.  Then, all of your work will go swirling down the toilet.  If you are on the phone that may mean saying, “I need to let you go.  Can we talk later?”  If you are face to face and you cannot totally leave, use the toilet trick.  Even if you know where it is, ask where the restroom is located and excuse yourself.  No one is going to follow you into the restroom.  Unless they also have to go too, in which case, I don’t know, you’re on your own.  Maybe grunt in the stall and wonder aloud about the green roast beef you ate for dinner last night.  That won’t happen though.  In all my years of saying no I have never been followed into the restroom.  Head in, wash your hands a few times, go if you need to, and relish your victory.

1 comment:

no way said...

Kate, this is so funny. I love your way with words!