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Note 11: Strategies for saying no

Hello and welcome to note 11 of 12. In the last note we looked at why it can be hard to say no. In this note, you’re going to learn about strategies for saying “no”.

There are many times when we want to say yes to people, especially when you want to help them, even when you don’t have the capacity to. Some people have an innate desire to please people. Problems can arise if you do these things because you can’t say no or don’t know how to do so, when deep down you know that you should be saying no to be able to honour your own needs or responsibilities.

When you want to say no it’s good to:

  1. Decide on your position before you speak: If you are not sure what your answer is, it’s better not to answer. Decide exactly what you are and are not willing to do. If you need more time and you feel comfortable in doing so, you can communicate that you will get back to them as soon as possible.
  2. Wait for a question: Some people agree or put themselves forward for something before they were even asked. There’s nothing wrong with volunteering – when you choose to do it. Try not to act on hints, keep your cool and wait for the actual question.
  3. Keep back our apologies unless it is necessary: When we apologise to someone, they might feel that they are entitled to expect you to do something. If you feel like you need to apologise, take a breath and first check you have something to be sorry for.
  4. Accept the consequences: You have the right to say no, but other people have the right not to like it. In fact, they have the right to think you are unreasonable. When you say no there might be unpleasant consequences. Understanding and planning for this can help you manage their response as it would come as less of a surprise. If you feel that you are unsure of what your position is after they’ve expressed their response, remind yourself why it is right for you to say no.

Remember: Before you can say no, you have to stop agreeing automatically. Make a deal with yourself: before you respond to a request (or a hint of a request) you have to recognise that it is only a request, not an expectation that you must act upon.

Action: Think before you agree! Before you agree to anything, say to yourself: “that’s a request. I can choose to say no or yes”.

In the next note we’ll review what we learnt in this pathway

And don’t forget: You are valuable. You are powerful. You can do this!

Your friends at Soul Medicine

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