No Means No

Picture this: you’ve just been asked to take part in a project, that you really couldn’t get involved in right now. You’ve looked at your schedule, and you really don’t have the time, or maybe even the inclination and so you’ve said, ‘no.’ That’s it, end of the story, right?

Sadly, that’s not always the case. We’ve all been there, in the situation where you’ve given your answer, and the person you’re talking to has taken that to mean you need to be convinced. So they ask again. And again. Chances are they might have even worn you down to where finally you’ve said ‘yes’ just out of self-defense. What can you do?

The trick is to make your ‘no’ mean ‘NO’ the first time you asked. How?

Practice. Body language and tone of voice is important when letting someone down. The first step is to be aware of how you present yourself. Are your lips saying ‘no’ but the rest of you waffling off into an attitude that says you can be worn down?

  •  Start with good posture.You want confident without overbearing. Stand up straight, square your shoulders, look the speaker in the eye and say, “No.”

  • How was your tone of voice?Did the word come out weak and sounding something like a question? You want to speak firmly, without shouting. Sound like you mean it.

  •  What words did you use?If you started with an apology, you’re already taking a weaker stance. There are no apologies necessary, just say ‘no.’ End of story.

  •  Mind your manners.Just because you’re saying, ‘no’ doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. Thank the person for asking you. You might even find something nice to say about the project. For example, you might say, “That sounds really interesting. I really can’t, but thank you so much for ask

  • But be sincere.Nothing rings false more than fake flattery. It might be you have no interest in their project at all. In this case,it’s better to go with the adage we were raised on – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Here a simple, “No thank you.” will suffice.

  • Don’t lie.There’s nothing worse than finding out the person you asked who told you there were out of town that weekend, was actually home all along. Don’t be that person. Honesty really is the best policy.

    Above all – be true to yourself. Know what you want. Know your limitations. If it’s in your best interest to say ‘no’ to something, the rest should just fall into place. Guard your timeand your commitments. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no’ when you need to. If you know that much, your own self-confidence will carry you through, and the rest of the world will likewise respect your decisions.