Take your mind back to when you were seven years old. You see the biggest, shiniest toy sitting on the shelf. It’s calling your name… every fibre of your being wants to have it. You look at your mother and ask innocently, “Can I have that? Please, I’ll be very good?”. She looks back at you and replies, “No.” As children we all expect the ‘no’ answer when we ask for things, and in some cases, we don’t even bother asking as we know what the suspected outcomes will be. Yet, why as adults do we have such a big issue saying ‘no’ to others? We are becoming a society that wants to bend and shape to please everyone. No, is just not a word in our vocabulary. We shy away from using it and feel anxious and stressed when we have to. Well I am here to tell you that saying no isn’t just a nice skill to have, it’s a must-have. It’s not about shutting down everyone and everything, it’s about working on the art of say yes responsibly. Top Tips to Getting More Comfortable Saying No Keep it simple Try not to overwork it in your brain or spend hours ruminating the outcomes. If you want to say no, just do so. There is no need to be rude about it, decline politely, thank them for the offer but let them know you’re rejecting it. A simple “No, thank you” will do. Sometimes we want to say no but end up with a lengthy explanation that makes the other side reply with a counter-proposal you’ll need to keep rejecting. On occasion we even find ourselves lying to try and cover our tracks - remember that time you said you were stuck at work and couldn’t meet friends, but you were actually on the couch with a glass of wine and a Netflix session at home? If you are uncomfortable, try an alternative We’ve all had that friend who asks us a favour that we simply can’t fit in, it’s ok to say no. What might make you feel more comfortable is offering an alternative. “Sorry I can’t make your birthday dinner that night, but how about I take you out for coffee and cake the next day?” “I can’t help you with that project right now, however I am happy to review your final document before you send it off.” Just remember to keep your promise achievable and something you are comfortable undertaking. Take Your Time If you’re unsure about the answer you want to give, don’t feel pressure to answer right away. Stall with the answer a little and allow yourself the time and space to think about the offer and come up with the best answer for you. You can say something like “Sounds interesting, let me think about it first” or “I’ll check and get back to you”. This works well when dealing with salesmen, high-pressure people or major decisions. Keep Practising Saying no is something that we all can feel challenged with, it’s a human trait. What is important is to try little and often to help build your confidence. Next time you're shuffling through a shopping centre and are approached by a salesperson who asks if you need help, simply smile and say no thank you. Next time you really don’t feel like going out on the town, say no graciously. These little steps will continue to build your abilities and give you more encouragement for the future. When we say no, we feel like we are letting people down, however we have to remember that we should be our top priority. If we keep giving parts ourselves away and living under constant stress and strain - something will crack. It is impossible to please everyone and the sooner we can accept that, the less burden we feel. By saying no we are protecting ourselves, and in most cases, our friends and colleagues will respect you as someone who knows and understands boundaries and will commit wholeheartedly to whatever you say yes to. At the end of the day remember, you are not ice cream, you can’t please everyone. If this is still a skill you are concerned about, at Outred Psychology we can support you with strategies that give you the mental strength to say no.