How I Learned To Stop Being A Doormat And Start Saying No

Because there’s being an accepting person, and then there’s being a pushover. 

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Why It’s Vital To Learn How To Say No

It’s been said that the key to failure is trying to please everyone.

RELATED: How To Say No Without The Guilt

And, growing up, young girls are often taught to be ‘people pleasers’ and then womanhood, plus a lack of assertiveness, equals disaster; women often find themselves super-stressed after taking on way more than they can handle.

Let us not teach our daughters to believe that it’s ‘nice’ to please others rather than thinking about what they want themselves! Assertiveness is vitally important and lacking in a lot women, I believe. And I’m guilty of this myself, on occasion, as are many of my friends: it seems that saying no can be very hard indeed.

There are family, work and social commitments to juggle for starters, let alone some precious alone time, which we all so desperately need for our good mental health. Women can feel so stretched in all directions, you can lose your head, if you’re not careful. No is such a tiny word – so, why is it so hard to say?

But say no we must in order to protect our best interests – why do something you really don’t want to do? And, if by saying yes to something you’ve compromised yourself in any way, you know you’ve made the wrong choice. Maybe learning to say no comes with age; you start to care less about what people think of you and start pleasing yourself a lot more. And, importantly, we all have limits on our time, energies and capabilities: learning what our top priorities are each day and saying no to all else accordingly is a vital life skill.

assertiveness, self-improvement, saying no
Relationship experts say personality characteristics such as insecurity, low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness or fear of disapproval can make it very hard for women to say no. Someone for whom it is important to be approved of and liked and who lacks confidence can find it difficult to challenge a partner, friend or boss who attempts to use them and makes unreasonable demands on their time, generosity or values.

But ladies – it’s terribly important you realise that you can never please everyone and to be strong enough to receive some negativity and criticism without falling apart. Love and nurture yourself enough to set yourself safe boundaries and both accept and deflect any disappointment or disapproval from the person you are saying “no” to. Don’t put everyone else’s interests ahead of yours!

So, how do we actually say no in actual practice? It’s a small, but mighty word that packs a punch. But you don’t have to deliver it in a nasty way: I prefer a “thanks so much for asking me, but no thanks” approach. I love this quote from US educator and author Steve Covey: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”

assertiveness, self-improvement, saying no

Relationship experts also say if someone is asking you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing or which is clearly not in your own best interests, you need to be assertive even if this feels difficult. Assertiveness is about having your own needs met without impacting on the needs of others. Give a clear and decisive “no” and a brief explanation as to why you are unable to fulfil the request. Perhaps give a brief apology, but don’t overdo it; remember that your needs are every bit as valid as the other person’s and ain’t nobody got time for whiny apologies.

Being assertive gets easier with practice, so give it a go. You may even learn to love it because sometimes it feels really good to say no. Finding your voice and asserting yourself are both very important life skills; seek help from a psychologist if this is a problem for you.

What do you think? How do you say no?

Images via the Telegraph, Live Free Blog and Living Brilliance Now




How To Say NO Without Being A Bitch

Are you a people pleaser – you know, the type of person who finds it difficult to say no? And when you do, does it comes out like a roar because you’re so overloaded? Well, you aren’t alone. Interestingly, there’s an epidemic of us out there and I used to be one of them. Even though I continued to overload myself, saying no just never felt like an option.

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Learning when to saying NO

Learning when to say no is a very powerful tool in stress and time management. Loads of women find this exceptionally difficult, while men (obviously not all men) seem to find it much easier. This potentially has something to do with the way females are raised, therefore many of us have had this trait from a young age.

A key thing to remember is that you could spend your entire life saying yes to others and it won’t necessarily make their lives any better, nor will it make yours all rosy, either. In many cases saying yes constantly can, and does, make life worse. We just don’t see it like that at the time.

Why we need to say no

The next thing to establish is why you need to say no. Ultimately, you need to look after your needs and health first. This is so important as someone who is burnt out is really no good to anyone – not at work, not at home, nowhere. Therefore, if someone asks you a to do something, you really need to remind yourself that you have a choice. It’s been your choice in the past to say yes and it’s your choice in the future to say no.

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well it is, and it’s as easy as reminding yourself that only you can make that decision. No one can do it for you. You might get a bit of opposition at first but be prepared to work through it to reach the other side.

How to say no assertively

One of my biggest problems when saying no was my tone. It was aggressive. Sometimes very aggressive. This was usually when I felt under pressure, but continued to want to please everyone. Instead of looking after my needs first, I’d look after everyone elses and once I’d reach breaking point, all hell would break loose. My inability to say no assertively was getting me into some seriously trying situations.

Being assertive is very different to being aggressive. It’s in the tone and language we use. A great skill to have is looking at the reaction of the recipient of our messages. For example, when someone is spoken to with aggression they often physically take a step back.

Additionally, people spoken to with aggression will get a hurt or angry look on their face. This is when their protective wall goes up; if you look closely, you’ll usually be able to see it happening. You see, assertion, on the other hand, evokes a different reaction.

If you aren’t sure if you are being assertive or aggressive, use a successful boss or supervisor as a role model. They need to delegate and say no often, so when they speak they often do so with pleasantness, conviction and earnestly. Something like: “No, you won’t be able to take next Monday off, but I’ll check the roster and see what we can work out.” Although you don’t get the exact answer you’re hoping for, there is a degree of positivity in the way that they speak.

An aggressive boss or supervisor in the same situation would bark something like: “No, I need you. You can’t do that.”  There’s nothing positive offered in response and it can instantly make you feel bad. You often see parents in supermarkets doing this to their kids, and if spoken to the same way, they’d probably feel like screaming too.

Mastering assertion

Being able to say no in a positive way is something which needs to be mastered. It won’t happen instantly and you’ll need to practice. Keep in mind that it’s bound to feel uncomfortable at first as others will be expecting you to say yes as you’ve always done in the past. Remember above all else, saying yes or no is a choice. Therefore, avoid taking on any guilt in doing so – this is how many of us have become people pleasers in the first place.

Image via heatherwaxman.com

5 Simple Ways To Say ‘No’

We’ve been raised to be polite, listen and want to help people, but somewhere along the way we may have failed to learn how to set our own boundaries. There wasn’t much talk about that when I was growing up. As a result, I say ‘yes’ too often and I’m scared to pick up my home phone for fear that there’ll be a sales person on the other way and I’ll end up listening to all they have to say before I can get off the line.

In fact, it was a sales conversation that left me shaken and made me look for ways to say ‘no’ that were respectful, but also let me stay true to myself. It was someone I had bought an educational program from and she called to offer me the next step. Her first program was ok and gave me solid knowledge, but it was also somewhat boring and not the best match for my learning style. I appreciated this person’s efforts and I didn’t want to upset her, but I wasn’t going to buy anything else from her.

What did I do? Instead of being straightforward and honest, I started coming up with excuses, which she saw as an opportunity to coach me through resistance. Not a great feeling and what a waste of time!

What could I have done better? What could you do better next time you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do?

1. Be direct

‘No, I can’t’ or ‘No, I won’t be taking your next program’. Sometimes, it will be enough. Other times (in my case above), the person you’re talking to may ask you why.  Starting the conversation that way will at least give you more time to gather your thoughts and come up with thoughtful and honest response.

2. Begin with gratitude

‘Thank you for trusting me with this, but I won’t be able to help’, ‘I’m honoured, but I can’t’ or ‘Thank you for inviting me, but I won’t be able to make it’. It’s often our perception that we’ll hurt people’s feelings by saying ‘no’. By expressing gratitude we acknowledge that they’ve been brave or considerate enough to ask us and honour their feelings without having to accept their request.

3. Be truthful

It’ll make you feel better and it will make your conversation more productive if you give your true reasons for saying ‘no’. For example, in my case I could have said exactly what I wrote above if I’d given myself a few seconds to think about it, ‘You’ve created a great program, but it’s not a perfect fit for me’. Other phrases you could use are ‘I have other priorities at the moment’, ‘I can’t fit it into my schedule’ or ‘I have already committed to something else’.

4. Offer alternatives

If you don’t want to say ‘yes’, but you can offer an alternative solutions or you’re willing to commit to something else (that will usually require less effort), you can say something like ‘I’m not the best person to help you, but you can try this’ or ‘I won’t be able to do that, but I can do this instead’.

5. Delay your response

‘I can’t give you an answer right now, can I get back to you?’ I usually dislike this option, because the request stays on your mind and you still need to deal with it, but it’s better than agreeing to something just because you can’t think of anything else to say in the moment. Take your time, choose the best response and re-connect with the person when you’re better prepared.

Image by geralt via pixabay.com

How To Say No (Without The Guilt)

Sometimes saying ‘no’ can often make one feel guilty about their decision, but there is a respectful way to get your point across. This is a common scenario that we have all experienced, where at times being nice to others is at the expense of ourselves. The right way to say ‘no’ is easier said than done, but explaining your situation, being truthful about your intentions and properly communicating with people can make the situation more smoother to deal with.

Be respectful

There is a correct way to say ‘no’ although it comes down to respecting the other person and their decision. It’s probably best not to cancel plans or say no at the last minute, after you’ve already made a decision because you’ve got cold feet. This behaviour is not only unreliable but isn’t in good taste either.

Don’t feel guilty

There’s only one worse thing than saying no, and that is saying yes without wanting to take part in what the other person has proposed. The best option is to be honest, and respectfully make your point be heard. Be firm about your decision, and don’t sit on the fence with your point of view. If you’re dealing with someone face to face, make sure you are firm with the tone of your voice and maintain eye contact.

Requires an explanation?

There is a debate whether saying no to someone or in a certain situation even requires an explanation. This is all based on context, and what exactly the situation requires of you. If the scenario is about lending money, be truthful and explain how this isn’t a financially viable option for you at the moment. Avoid white lies since they could catch up with you in the future.

Think it through

Take a moment and think through if this particular decision is right for you. It doesn’t hurt to think it over, and prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time. Sometimes keeping it short and sweet is the best way say no. Rambling and long explanations will feel like you are trying to convince yourself, rather than the other person.

Image via transformleaders.tv

By Felicia Sapountzis