The non-negotiable way I say no at times it's hardest to say no

This has come up in so many sessions recently - whether with teens or with young adults or older adults (we’re all still practicing this!) that I felt moved to write a blog about it. It’s worrisome (yet not surprising) how frequently I hear clients - and myself! - say, “I have a hard time saying no.”

This non-negotiable way of saying “no” takes practice - it’s effective when you use it, but sometimes actually using it is what’s difficult. Let’s talk about both things.

First, the simple sentence is,

that doesn’t work for me.”

It’s fairly hard to argue with people when they flat-out say - that doesn’t work for me. Even if they try to argue about how it may work for you, or could be adjusted to work for you, you can keep coming back to “that just doesn’t work for me.”

The other thing I like about this phrase is that it doesn’t sound mean, or bitchy, or rude. It’s stating a simple fact - that doesn’t work for me. If you do want to negotiate, you then also have the opportunity to suggest something that does work for you.

The trick here is that, like I mentioned, it takes practice to actually start saying this and using it consistently. Start with simple things that feel less risky or less consequential - the time to meet a friend, or the color of something you’re looking at buying. Something light and easy, where the person is likely to listen right away.

It’s important to remember that after you’ve become a pro, this still takes practice. Not only that, but there’s an important component hiding behind the inability to say no: the need to do everything, please everyone, and the guilt of saying “no.” That doesn’t work for me can be a simple way to begin choosing what you want to do, and what you don’t.

SocializingMegan Yarnall