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Why is it hard to say NO?

What part of NO don’t you understand?

A friend of advanced years did not know how to say NO!
He had too many visitors and interruptions to his work. “John ” said that saying NO! never worked for him.
I asked him to say a firm NO! to me.
It was totally unconvincing, he obviously did not mean it!

When he said NO!, his body language was clearly surrendering, not assertive.
His eyes looked down, it felt as if he moved away from me and as if his chest was drawing in breath.

With 10 minutes guidance and practice he was transformed!
Now his NO! is assertive. How do I know?  When he spoke:

  • He looked directly in my eyes.
  • His chest was much more inflated.
  • His voice was firm.
  • His energy felt strong and convincing.

I am really looking forward to his feedback in a few weeks.
It’s never too late to learn new techniques!

So, why is it hard to say NO?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saying NO usually feels uncomfortable.

It may depend on who we are speaking to, but it is all about being (un)comfortable or afraid of being rejected.
We may be:

  • Afraid of being rejected
  • Afraid to refuse our boss
  • Not want to upset our partner.
  • Protecting our dignity ( read ego )
  • Feeling unsafe
  • Afraid we will lose respect of the person asking
  • Afraid of punishment or loss of possible favours
  • Feeling insecure

The simplified summary can best be seen in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs…..

So, just how do we say no without loss of respect or self-esteem?

A clue : it is all about being fully present when we speak to others.
That means being in touch with our feelings, understanding what “makes us tick”.
Of course  there are a few tricks to “Fake It Till We make It”

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