Learning to say no..
I have found that a lot of people have trouble saying No to others, not only loved ones but people they don’t know. I find that interesting because the ability to say No can be one of the most liberating things we can do. It can free you from the drudgery of doing things you don’t want to do and possibly shouldn’t be doing anyway. It can stop people wasting your time and interestingly it can stop those people who try to take advantage of you.
I think most of us have been in the situation where someone is taking up our time or wanting money or wanting us to do something for them that we don’t want to do. Sure, there are times when it’s nice to do things for people, It’s something I enjoy doing myself. The important point is to choose when you say yes to people and not to feel pressured into it by guilt.
It’s a horrible thing to feel you must say yes to someone who wants something when what you really want is to say no to them.
Let me illustrate what I mean.
You have just made a nice meal or someone else has made the meal and you are ready to sit down and enjoy it when someone rings the door bell. (In this situation personally I just don’t answer it, same with the phone, but a lot of people can’t help it)
You go to the door, open it and someone you don’t know and probably don’t really want to know is standing there and they start their ‘spiel’. “Just a moment of your time”, they say. “Who provides your mobile phone service?” they ask. (it could be any question really, but that’s one I get a lot).
What you really want to reply with is “none of your business, go away”. Politeness though dictates that we answer them and just try to get rid of them as soon as possible. The problem with this is the person has usually been trained in just the right techniques and knows the right tone of voice so that you would feel bad just telling them to go away.
Why do think that is? Why should we feel bad not wanting to spend time with someone who is wasting our time. What could be the reason for that? This person is ‘stealing your time’. Unasked and unwanted, none the less you spend time with them, saying what you think will get rid of them the quickest. One of the reasons is that as we have grown up most of us have been taught to be nice to people and to treat them how we would like to be treated. Of course all perfectly normal but it makes it really difficult to be rude to others or to interupt people when they are talking.
I say, take back that control from these time wasters. Of course you don’t need to be rude to someone wasting your time, no matter how much that might be enjoyable. You can still be friendly and polite and yet get them off your doorstep quickly.
You can usually easily tell when they are trying to sell you something as they start giving you a set speech. Mostly they will have been taught to get that speech out to you as soon as they can, usually in one long breath. This is because they expect most people to say no very soon into the conversation and if they can get you to listen to as much of their speech as possible, you are more likely to buy what they are selling.
One way is to interrupt their set speech and take back control of the conversation. Some of these ‘doorstep marketers’ have been taught ways to keep control of the conversation and it’s a good start to take back that control. A way to do this is to interrupt what they are saying with your own question. “Excuse me are you trying to sell me something?” I know how hard that can be but it’s something that will useful to know and be able to do. Interrupting them will throw them off stride since they will (most likely) not have had anyone ask that question.
As an aside, I think it’s important to be polite at all times of course since as I mentioned there is no need to be rude, they are just doing a job that a lot of people don’t like. Being polite is good for you, good for them and good for the world in general.
If they answer you with a ‘yes’ most likely they will try to start their speech again so once again interrupt them and say “Thanks anyway, but no thank you.” Here is where you should ‘disengage’ from the conversation. Closing the door is a good way to do this and you certainly shouldn’t feel rude for doing it. If you feel bad about this then you can always add “sorry” before you close the door.
If they say ‘No’ or not really and they actually are trying to sell you something then they have lied to you straight away and as soon as you realize that you are justified in saying ‘No’ to them and closing the door.
At this point they know you are not interested. If they try to prolong the conversation you don’t need to be polite anymore. You have told them no and are perfectly within your rights to shut the door in their face.
With practice this can take a very short time. Usually under 15 seconds.
Once you make the firm decision not to spend any time with a time waster that makes it easier.
The first time you implement this will probably be difficult for you but it can be very ‘freeing’ to be able to say no. Specially if it’s something that is normally hard for you to do.
Of course there are many examples where being able to say no is useful for you and this was only one.
A lot of you might never have door to door salespeople coming to your home however you probably have telemarketers calling at inopportune times. The phone is usually easier to disengage from since you can just hang up.
Again I want to stress to you to be polite to these people as well. Why should you be polite you ask? Good question, it shows your paying attention. When you’re polite about such things then you have less animosity towards others and you will remain calmer which is always a good thing. You can answer the phone and be peaceful at the same time when your not dreading the phone call. Some people make the choice not to answer the phone or let an answering machine ‘screen’ their calls. Of course that’s OK if you want. Some people have no choice but have to answer the phone so here’s a tip for you.
Look for ways to enjoy the conversation. An example could be getting them off the line as quick as possible and then trying to beat that time. if the first one takes you 30 seconds see if you can get it down to 10 seconds or maybe 6 seconds. If you lose your temper then assume you’ve lost that round. When you lose your temper or get frustrated then the other person is in control of the situation.
It’s not always with strangers that you need to be able to say no. Sometimes it’s someone close to you. I have a friend who can’t say no to her mother and there are times when she really does need to. Just because we love someone very much doesn’t mean we have to do everything they say. That sort of thing is natural when you’re a child and your parent is asking, however as an adult you need to be able to say no and be firm about it.
Although I suggested not to, at times you are justified in being rude. Certainly when the other person is using guilt to try to get their own way. That sort of thing is of course very childish but I see it happen quite often.
Also I find when you say ‘yes’ too often, people seem to expect it. When you say ‘no’ they can get quite upset, as if it’s their right that you should go out of your way for them. That’s one of the reasons I think people should say ‘No’ more often. If for no other reason than to stop people from expecting you to do what they are wanting.
Here’s an exercise for those who have trouble saying no to a parent. This is a process that is called guided imagery and is used by many people to resolve problems or to understand themselves better. In many cases it’s used with a therapist guiding you where you need to go but it can also be done by yourself.
Take some time and be by yourself as this is best done when your alone. Sit down comfortably, close your eyes and mentally go through a situation that has happened in the past and you wished you’d been able to say no to. When going through that situation change it so that mentally (in your imagination) your saying No to the person. You may find that you have some strong emotions arise when you do this. Thats OK and perfectly normal. Go through that situation a few times inside your mind and it will be easier for you to say it to others in reality.
Of course there are many other situations you could find yourself in. Enough that it would fill a book by itself.
If you have any situations where you feel you should be saying ‘No’ to someone but are unable to, let me know and I will see what I can figure out for you.