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10 Ways to Say “No”

In life, there are times when rejecting something is uncomfortable or when we just don’t know how to do things. It is an art that requires training, and to know how to proceed in these situations there are tools that can help you determine the best way to do so without making a bad impression on the other person.

5-Minute Crafts wants to share different ways to say “No” with you so you can always keep them in mind.

1. Be firm but kind

  • This particular technique of rejecting an invitation can be used when you’re dealing with an unknown person with whom you do not have a special bond and who you know you’re probably not going to develop a strong relationship with. If you’re thinking of using this technique on people you love or spend a lot of time with, like friends and family, you should be aware that it generally does not work very well, as it can damage the relationship.

2. Suggest an alternative

  • This is a somewhat more “delicate” way of saying “No.” The whole idea is to offer “something in return” or something that works better for you. If there is no possibility to deal with what’s being requested of you at that particular moment, that shouldn’t be an issue. Just find the most convenient time for you. By doing that you can postpone the matter and it won’t look like you are refusing to help someone who needs you. This technique can be used with acquaintances or co-workers because you won’t be perceived in a negative way since you’re just rescheduling their request.

3. Create a brief period of silence

  • If you are one of these people who find it hard to say “No” and you find yourself in a situation where someone asks you for something and you would not like to say “Yes,” take 5. Count to 3 and wait for the other person to fill in the gap. Sometimes a small but clear silence can be enough to express your refusal without you having to justify anything.

4. Save time

  • When you don’t know whether you actually want to agree or not with something that someone’s proposing (for instance, attending an event, or something of the like) you might need some time to think about what your answer will be. That’s ok because you can use this trick. Don’t immediately agree to have a conversation about a topic that might make you uncomfortable. Instead, postpone it. This way you’ll be able to get the time you need to think through how you’re going to answer.

5. Reduce liability and accountability

  • This technique works well when you can’t take on a responsibility for some reason (lack of time, conflict of interest, etc.) and you know someone else who can actually do a great job instead of you. Ask your acquaintances for help or ask if they can lend you a hand with the issue. In this way, you can help the person who needs something from you by linking him or her, for example, with a colleague while at the same time letting yourself off the hook.

6. Be honest

  • Although it may be difficult at times, being sincere is the method that works best when you have to say “No” to someone. Discuss what happens to you when you respond and change your approach to the situation: be grateful for the request and, if you have to refuse, always give a good reason and be firm.

7. Make it clear that you do not have time to spare

  • This technique is perfect to use in your workplace or in a work setting. If someone asks you to do something and you know you won’t be able to meet your commitments on time, just tell your colleague. You can even use this method with your boss. Ask him or her what task they would prefer you to put aside to fulfill the new request they’re imposing on you. They will probably change their mind and ask another colleague to do it.

8. Seize downtime to attend to unimportant issues

  • There will always be people who would like a moment of your time, especially to meet you in person. But many times they will demand schedules that may be inconvenient for you for one reason or another, as they may break up your day and make you lose momentum in your work or on projects. In cases like this, try to do the opposite. Set boundaries and use those gaps left in your calendar, like for example when you have free time in between projects, to meet with people.

9. Settle the issues right away

  • It is normal for people who are looking for something from you to want to make use of your time in order to try and get something from you. They will probably try to get your attention, but in order to have more space and peace of mind, they will want to get their own personal slot on your calendar — something that allows them enough time to find the right opportunity to ask something. In a case like this, you may want to protect your time, so try to have the matter solved right there when they’re asking to make an appointment by putting the question back on their side.

10. Accept, but only partially

  • This is a very useful tactic when it comes to dealing with people that keep putting pressure on you to accept something that you don’t want. If a person explicitly puts pressure on you and you see that no other method will work, you can come to a compromise. Accept the proposal, but only partially. They might be right in what they’re saying but that still doesn’t mean that you have to change your opinion, so put your needs first.
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