Know When To Say “No”

Know When To Say “No.” Saying “no” to people or situations that are not healthy means you are not looking out for your well-being.  In Couples Counseling I work with people who are not able to say what they really want to say to their partners to avoid conflict, hurting the other person’s feelings, repercussions, or whatever fear they may have about their relationship.

If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, you may not be in a healthy relationship.  Being able to initiate conversation, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what you need and want is what a healthy relationship looks like.

Say goodbye to being a people pleaser and learn how to confidently say no to someone without feeling bad about it.  It has a lot to do with being assertive.

Tips for Saying No Effectively:

Takers – Say “yes” to givers. Be a giver yourself.  “Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.”—

Say no to takers:

  • Recognize who’s a taker (they always ask or even demand things).
  • Set ground rules and confront them (in a nice way).
  • Stop giving to them until their behavior/mindset changes.
  • Spend more time with givers like yourself.

1. Say it.

Don’t beat around the bush or offer weak excuses or hem and haw. This only provides an opening for the other person. Don’t delay or stall either. Provide a brief explanation if you feel you need to; however, don’t feel compelled. The less said the better.

2. Be assertive and courteous.

You might say, “I’m sorry I can’t right now but will let you know when and if I can.” This approach is polite, and puts you in a position of power by changing the dynamic. You’re taking charge, telling people you’ll let them know when and if you can. Another example, “I appreciate your asking me for help, but I’m stretched too thin right now to devote the time to be of quality help to you.”

3. Understand peoples’ tactics.

Many people and organizations use manipulation techniques, whether knowingly or not. For example, think about when you get a solicitation for a donation to a charity and there are forced options: “Would you like to donate $10, $20, $30, or X amount?” Another tactic: “Most people donate $20–how much would you like to donate?” This relies on social pressure.

4. Set boundaries.

People sometimes have a hard time saying no because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand the dynamic and your role, you won’t feel as worried about the consequences of saying no. You’ll realize that your relationship is solid and can withstand your saying no.

5. Put the question back on the person asking.

This is highly effective in a work situation. Let’s say a supervisor is asking you to take on several tasks–more than you can handle. You might say, “I’m happy to do X, Y, and Z; however, I would need three weeks, rather than two, to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritize them?”

6. Be firm.

If someone can’t accept your no, then you know the person is probably not a true friend or doesn’t respect you. Stand firm, and don’t feel compelled to give in just because that person is uncomfortable.

7. Be selfish (in a good way)

Put your needs first. Not those of the person asking you for something. If you prioritize that person’s needs over yours, you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount. Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Make time for people that don’t bring you down. Stay away from toxic people.  “It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around when you remove toxic people from your life.” — Robert Tew

How to say no to toxic people:

  • Spend more time with people who share your values.
  • Be truthful and let someone know you’re ready to move on.
  • Find a mentor who’ll help you remove yourself from toxic people.
  • Join online groups of like-minded individuals.

As a young woman, I had a difficult time saying “no.”  I wanted everyone to like me and not to think poorly of me.  In the long run I became a resentful and angry person. This lack of assertiveness and conflict avoidance made my parenting of my older children challenging as I never wanted to disappoint them.  As it turns out they appreciate my forthcoming assertiveness in saying what I need to say.  And that sometimes can be “no.”

To learn how to be more assertive and say “no” without feeling negative thoughts about yourself call me at (858) 735-1139.




Are You Assertive Enough?

Are You Assertive Enough?  The definition of Assertive is behaving confidently and being able to say in a direct way what you want or believe. When you’re assertive you act confidently. You say, in a direct but respectful way, exactly what you want. At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to to know who you are and what you stand for, then to express these qualities effectively in everyday interactions with other people. Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might now know how you expect to be treated. You have to teach people how to behave around you.

Are You Assertive Enough?

Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others. Assertiveness is not aggression. People who are assertive know that they can deal with the world much more effectively if they don’t resort to violence or other aggressive responses. In many ways, assertiveness is the exact opposite of aggression. Assertion enhances constructive communication and cooperation between people, while aggression shuts it down. And assertion is not manipulation. Most people are aware, at some level, when they are being manipulated and it can lead to distrust and a lack of respect, for both parties. Manipulation involves hiding behind a facade. Assertion means tearing down that facade and happily announcing to the world who you truly are. At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for.

We see situations of nonassertive behavior around us daily. Most people who lack an assertive style are those who are conflict avoidant and want to keep the peace. However, they often pay a price for this as communication is less effective in their interpersonal relationships whereby making needs and wants unclear.

There are many negative consequences associated with not being assertive. For example, those who are not assertive allow their feelings and boundaries to be violated by others. They believe they don’t have the right to their own feelings, beliefs or opinions and even if they do, they have difficulty expressing them in a way that is validating. They may feel that asserting their thoughts will lead to rejection or even being attacked. They frequently feel that it’s better to withhold their ideas rather than cause a conflict. Nonassertive people may feel guilty when they have to say “No.” As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I say feelings of guilt are irrational as guilt is something you feel when you’ve done something wrong.  Saying “NO” isn’t wrong if it’s the appropriate thing to say, and more importantly, if it’s what you WANT to say.  They often allow others to make decisions for them and may assume that others will care for their needs. They may place the needs of others above their own. Nonassertive people can become entrenched in Codependency and are easily victimized by others.

The ramifications of choosing to be nonassertive are costly. People feel hurt and mistreated when their needs are not met yet those who are not assertive do little to meet these needs themselves. They may store up negative feelings and then harbor anger. Their sense of efficacy in the world is diminished, and then they complain about how unfair the world is to them. This approach toward the world may lead to depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety, isolation, and anger.

Be More Assertive by Using “I” Statements

                              Use facts not judgments

                              Own your thought and feelings

                              Make clear direct requests

                              Respect yourself and others will too

Learning to be more assertive involves examining several dimensions of your life that include self-esteem, communication skills, ability to remain calm, and being authentic.  When you can comfortably share your authentic self with the world around you, with integrity and respect for the rights and wholeness of other people, you are truly asserting yourself.  When your Best Self (differentiated self, more evolved self) shows up it makes for a great partner in the relationship you choose to be a part of.

How often are you able to say “no?”  Do you ever say “yes” when you really want to say “no?”  It took me years to be able to say “no” and not feel bad about having to disappoint someone and feel guilty.

For more information on acquiring Assertiveness Training or becoming more assertive in all your relationships please contact me at (858) 735-1139.