Top Tips for Saying No
Why do we have such a problem with saying no? Do you remember Jim in The Vicar of Dibley who says: “no, no, no, no, no, no… Yes?” Even he can’t stick with saying no. He doesn’t have a problem saying it, but he still ends up saying yes in the end!
We can all struggle with saying ‘no’, and for good reasons: we’re caring, we’re kind, we don’t want to upset people or make them feel bad. So, we may say “yes” when someone presents us with a piece of cake that we don’t really want, or “yes” to taking on an extra task at church.
This video, and blog below, explores why you still say “yes” when you really want to say “no” and gives you 5 top tips to help you learn to say “no” when that’s what you really mean.
The primary reason we keep saying yes so much is because we don’t want to offend people or hurt their feelings. But it’s also really important we look after ourselves and be true to ourselves. You may have heard this analogy before, but if you’re on an aeroplane that’s having a problem and starts to lose cabin pressure, you are always told to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others around you. At first that might seem a bit strange, but the reality is that you can’t help anyone if you’re not breathing yourself.
The same is true in this area. You can’t help or properly serve people unless you’re living, breathing and being your true authentic self. It is so important not to keep saying yes to things, but to stop, take stock, and sometimes, to say no. This can apply to a wide range of things that impact on our physical, spiritual and emotional health. It could be saying “no” to taking an extra biscuit or some homemade cake that someone’s offered you, or it could be saying “no” to taking on some ministry at church, or some extra work, or whatever else you might not be very good at saying no to.
Here are 5 tips to help you to learn to say no:
1. Work out what you truly want. Of course, if you do want that piece of cake or you’re completely happy to help with something at church, then go for it! There are no things that are right or wrong here, but if you’re offered something or asked to do something but your inside is screaming out: “No, no! I really don’t want that”, but yet you say “yes”, then that’s something that you need to look at. Start by working out what it is you truly want.
2. Remember that people will get over it. Whatever your decision, they will get over it and ultimately most likely respect it. There might be an awkward few seconds if your auntie Mabel has made a chocolate cake because she knows you’re coming and she wants you to have a massive slice. But you might say: “I’m really sorry, but I don’t fancy any at the moment. Could I take some home please?” That might be a little bit awkward; she might have liked to watch you eat some, but the moment will pass and then conversation will move on. Similarly, you might find yourself in a bit of an awkward position where you have to send an email or make a phone call to say no to something, but the awkwardness only lasts a little while. You shouldn’t always feel that you’re letting people down because they move on quickly; you saying no may actually be a chance for other people to get involved and other, possibly better, solutions to be found.
3. Practice being ‘truly you’. If you are true to yourself, the more ‘you’ you will become, and this will make you stronger. Be undivided. By being completely who you are in the small things, when bigger things come along you will be in a stronger position to say no to things that aren’t right. You can practice on the small little things, like saying no to an extra biscuit, or no to sitting down instead of going for walk and then when the bigger questions come along, you’ll be more confident in yourself and better able to say no if you need to.
4. Tell the truth. You don’t need to make up an elaborate story or reason why you don’t want to do something, instead, just tell the truth! You could say something like: “I’m full, thank you”; or “Sugar really doesn’t make me feel very good”; or “Could I just have a small slice and take some home for later?”; or “I’ve been thinking and praying about that thing you asked me to do, it but it just doesn’t sit right with me. I really believe I’m not the right person to be doing the task, but I really pray that you’ll find the person who is”. People will understand and move on!
5. Think of the positives. You may feel that saying no to things means you are somehow missing out, and this may make you feel bad. So instead, think about what you can say yes to. If you say no to a piece of cake, the positives may be that you are saying yes to a healthy lunch, a walk and ultimately, a healthier lifestyle. Set your mind on those things. You may say “no” to leading the Sunday School at church because it just doesn’t sit right with you or it’s not your passion, but there will be other things that you will say “yes’ to instead. Just because you say no to one thing, it doesn’t make you a negative person who says no to everything. By saying “yes” to the right things you can be truly you; undivided; breathing freely; healthy, whole and free to serve in the way that you’re meant to be serving and live in the way that you meant to be living. Don’t be frightened to say no, but just make sure that when you say “yes”, you’re meant to be saying yes!
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