Tag Archives: self help

The Fine Art of Saying “NO” Politely


No, is not only one of the shortest word of English vocabulary, but it’s also one of the most hardest for many of us to say.

Read on to learn how to put your foot down with these master manipulators.

1) Flattery Expert:

Whether it’s the friend who tells you how smart you are and how much she’d appreciate your help on a volunteer project she’s working on, or the school mom who insist that the students will be so disappointed if you don’t make your special cupcakes for the class holiday party, the flatterer plays to your vanity by making you feel indispensable.

Reality check: If you find it pleasurable to do—than it’s fine. According to Susan Newman, (PhD, author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It—and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.) If it’s not brain surgery, others can do it—perhaps not with your pizzazz, but it will get done and the cosmos will not explode in the process”.

Ideal Answer: Flattery can go both ways. Instead of complying, put the ball in the flatterer court. Say something like, “You’re a great baker—I can hand you the recipe! Why don’t you try it; I’m sure the kids would love it”.

2) Guilt Expert:

Your mother insists that you never call—never meaning your three calls a week aren’t enough. Or your friend sighs that you seem to have time for everyone but her—and does it while the two of you are together having dinner.

Reality check: Step back and get perspective. If it were a perfect stranger in your position, what would you think? If your grown kids behaved this way towards you, how would you feel? Ask a friend for some insight. If it seems like a bigger minefield than you know how to handle, consider talking to a psychotherapist to help you sort it out.

Ideal Answer: According to Dr. Newman, no one can do enough for certain people, so don’t. Avoid argument— its futile and you can never win—so it is better to calmly address the person how it’s going to be. “Mom, I’d rather we didn’t have this same argument over and over. If we can’t talk about something else, let’s hang up and call back when we can”. Or tell your “neglected” friend, “I’m sorry you feel this way, but I try to see you as much as I can”.

3) Sabotage Expert:

You’re committed to losing those excess pounds, but every time you go out with a certain friend, he tries to get you order dessert. “Just this one time can’t hurt”, he says. “But you can’t come and have the chocolate cake!” This category people tries to validate their choices by making you behave as the do.

Reality check: Consider yourself as a leader, not a follower, and ponder about how furious you’ll be when the number on the scale rises after all that hard work. “Saying no is not about selfishness but about self-respect. You’re standing up for what is right for you”, says William Ury, PhD, (Harvard University).

Ideal Answer: Stand firm, and then redirect the conversation. You don’t need a lot of explanations or excuses. “No, thank you. Tea is just fine for me. Are you going to watch American Idol this season? I wonder how the new hosts will be.”

4) Whining Expert:

Every time your coworker receives a hard assignment, she starts in on how unfair it all is, that she’s the one who always gets difficult stuff. Just to make her stop complaining, you end up offering help.

Reality check: Even if she has a point—your boss does give her more difficult work—this has nothing to do with you. It’s between the boss and her, and it’s up to her to deal with it.

Ideal Answer: Cut her off at the pass before she really gets rolling. “You know, you may have a point. This does seem to be a pattern. Why don’t you set up a meeting with the department head to see if you can sort this out?”

5) Bullying Expert:

Bullying among the adults is more commonplace than you can imagine. According to a 2007 study of 8,000 workers carried by the “Workshop Bullying Institute” proved that 38 % of workers had been bullied. Bullying amongst adults can take many shapes, but the bully always uses his intimidating demeanor and anger to get you to do more work than you desire to do.

Reality check: No matter what you have done or not done, no one deserves to be treated disrespectfully or in a threatening manner.

Ideal Answer: A bully wants to get under your skin, so don’t let him see you sweat. Don’t respond in anger and don’t allow yourself to be browbeaten into doing something you don’t want to do. According to Dr. Ury, a neutral, firm, quiet, calm voice is more powerful than a flat loud “NO”. Speak assertively and be very clear about what you want. Say, I don’t appreciate being treated this way. Come back when you calm down,” or “ I think I’ve made myself clear—I won’t discuss it anymore”.

Stay healthy!