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5 key techniques to say NO and be positively assertive

Being able to say NO assertively is an essential skill for all.

Body Language
Body Language (Photo credit: Monyokararan.)

Assertiveness is not simply for dominant personalities in positions of authority.
Or bullies!
Being assertive means taking control of your personal space, recognising your personal boundaries and staking your claim to them.

Our ability to say NO assertively should be a first level skill for all practised regularly from early childhood.
It is a survival tool and maximises our comfort zone, reducing background stress.
In another blog I gave a case history of a friend of advanced years who was unable to say NO assertively. Imagine the lifetime lost opportunities and stresses he may have endured during his lifetime.
Now he can assert himself authoritatively with ease.

5 key techniques to say NO and be positively assertive:

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All of them require awareness of how we actually behave when we say no.
We need to be aware of and demonstrate our personal boundaries to the other person, making it clear that we want them to “keep out of our space”

The 5 techniques are:

  • Eye contact
  • Breathing
  • Body language
  • Awareness of your personal space
  • What you say and how you say it

Eye Contact:
During the actual 1 or 2 seconds of saying NO, you must look the person directly in the eyes.
Looking down is easier, but it is submissive, not assertive!

Breathe in before saying NO, so that you are actually breathing out when you speak.
If you do the opposite, you are taking in energy.
To be assertive, you need to gently send out energy in the space around you – even when you are speaking on the phone.

Body language:
As you speak, your chest area must be slightly outward, even an imperceptible amount. It should be to the point where you may feel uncomfortable about it.
But do check in the mirror or via a reliable and trusted friend to avoid an aggressive stance!

Your hands: Avoid holding your hands together in any way. Let them hang down or perhaps elbows slightly bent with hands low.
Do not look aggressive, you need to own your space, not defend it!

Awareness of your personal space:

Practice your own awareness of your personal space.
When is somebody too close to you?
In front, in the cinema, in a meeting, behind you etc.

Practice this awareness. It takes time if this is a new experience.
This is the space you need to “own” around you.
This is your space.

When you say NO, you need to feel as if you are positively filling this space with the feeling of
This is my space, I own it, it is mine”
Not aggressively, simply own your space.
It does not matter if it overlaps another person’s space, your space exists for you.

What you say and how you say it:

There are several possibilities depending on the situation and exactly who is asking too much of you.

  • I am really busy
  • I don’t feel comfortable with this
  • I have other commitments
  • Is there somebody else who can do this?, I am…..
  • NO! is not recommended

Practice, practice, practice. It is the best way to learn.
If you are struggling with the practice, contact me

Share your success or challenges in the comments below……..
If you have difficulties with your personal space or assertiveness, contact me and let’s explore the possibilities.

Explore the possibilities with your Discovery Session

To your success.
Jim J Doyle

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