The art of refusal is something I’m only just learning to master, Happies. For years I was an over-committer, completely unable to say no to anything or anyone due to a ridiculous need to please people and a lingering sense of fear of pissing people off.
It’s ridiculous when you think about it, but a common mistake made by us ‘people pleasers’ of the world and one I totally understand. Being able to say no is a craft, and if there was a gene in charge of granting people the ability to simply refuse, I missed out on it completely. Utterly. Superbly.
In the past, I said yes to everything. Cleaning the car? Of course. Washing the dog? Sign me up. I once said yes to a joining a friend in a lecture. For a subject I wasn’t even studying. I know, I’m nuts!
My main concern came with disappointing the asker, I was worried that by me saying NO, they’d take it personally and I’d upset them, or worse yet, my refusal would send them into a flurry of anger and the friendship would be over. Complicating things much?
But over time, the more I learned to diplomatically say no, the more I realised that people were totally accepting of my decision, and responded by swiftly moving onto some other poor sucker in the hope of them not being so comfortable with that no word. Did the friendship end? No way. Did I upset anyone? Absolutely not. Was I a million times happier and enjoying my newfound free time? Too right, buster.
I recently read an article by Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, about how powerful saying no actually is. It’s all in the delivery, Hohlbaum explains, and quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more.
Here are her tips for letting people down gently…
1. Acknowledge. If someone asks you to do something, it is because they have faith you can do it or they like you enough to want to spend their time with you. If spearheading a new project or attending that party makes your heart sink instead of sing, acknowledge the person’s thoughtfulness for having considered you.
2. Express gratitude and interest. Thank the person for their invitation, then show interest in their efforts.
3. Decline. Once you have acknowledged the person’s request and expressed your gratitude for their consideration, politely decline with a few simple words. If “no” itself is too hard, you can say you have an overlapping commitment.
In other words, Happies, do whatever it takes to get out of said commitment, even if it means lying. Hilarious! No, no, in all seriousness I think the delivery of the N.O. does impact the outcome, and as long as you treat the asker with respect and reply diplomatically, you really can’t go wrong.
Plus, let’s face it, there are plenty of other people that will happily accept, so you may as well step aside and let them enjoy the experience, while saying yes to yourself at the same time. Who could ever say no to that?
Tell me Happies…
Do you suffer from YES syndrome, too?
How do you combat it?