For some of us saying no to people is incredibly hard, whether it’s a work colleague asking for help or a family member putting demands on your time. You may feel that by saying yes to everything you will come across as friendly and helpful – but when this comes at the cost of your happiness and wellbeing, it may be time to say no.
Give yourself time
Sometimes we are caught off guard by people asking for favours, making us flustered and respond with “yeah sure, I’ll do it” before we have a chance to process what’s been asked of us. To avoid this try to buy yourself some time by saying you need to check your diary. This will give you a chance to see if you realistically have the time or energy to help out, if you don’t – say no.
Saying no doesn’t mean you need to become cold-hearted or rude, be sure to remain polite when declining. Thank the person for thinking of you, but say you’ll have to pass this time. Stay calm and clear, ending on a positive note such as ‘good luck with the project’ to keep things lighthearted.
Think about your body language
When you are saying no, be sure to match you body language with what you are actually saying. When you dislike saying no, your shoulders tend to tense up and you may stand in a submissive posture while smiling. Try to stand tall and ration your smile, it’s nice to be friendly but you must also get across that you will not be swayed. Don’t fidget or look down when saying no either as this could give your asker the impression that you can be talked into saying yes.
Adopt a power pose
Research suggests that when you stand in the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose for two minutes (with your legs hip-width apart and your hands on your hips) your level of testosterone – the hormone of confidence – rises by 20%. So when you know you have a difficult conversation coming up, stand in this pose for a few minutes beforehand to build confidence.
For some people a lack of assertiveness stems from low self-confidence. Counselling can help to discover the route of your low confidence and help to increase your confidence levels. For more information, please see our Low Self-Confidence page.
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