How to Say No in 3 Steps or Less - Daily Hudson Valley News

How to Say No in 3 Steps or Less

Oct 30th, 2014 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Ahhh, guilt. Isn’t it great? Thanks mom, thanks Roman Catholic household, thanks never-ending feeling that I’m doing something wrong and should repent. As was pointed out to me in an infamous comment on a Facebook post that should have never been, I’m a bit of a guilt-tripper myself. The good news is that I make myself feel bad just as much as I make my friends feel bad.

That doesn’t really sound like good news, does it.

In my humble opinion (IMHO for the cool kids out there), I think the world is getting a bit…soft. People complain when there’s nothing to complain about. Everyone’s insulted, offended, tired, busy. This is why I hesitate to say “no.” Do I want to be one of those negative people? I don’t. Do I want to be the easy, breezy, breath-of-fresh-air friend who’s down for whatever, whenever? I do, so much so that I put myself last.

When I woke up early this morning with a catch-22 of neck pain – too uncomfortable too sleep, too painful to leave my bed – I had the spare time to ponder how I would get out of an afternoon meeting. “I cannot possibly go,” I said to myself. “But you committed to it!” I responded. “Yes, but my neck will just get worse if I go, I need to keep a heating pad on it all day,” I begged. “The meeting is more important than your neck!” I yelled.

Nothing is more important than my neck (i.e., my health) and so the glaringly obvious answer was to not go to the meeting. Plus, when it comes to this particular meeting, I would be volunteering business services that I don’t even perform anymore. It didn’t escape me that despite my neck pain, this wasn’t a meeting I should’ve agreed to in the first place.

How to Say “No” Without Making People Hate You

1. Wait It Out

The element of surprise is not our friend. Being put on the spot usually forces us to say “yes” when we mean “Hell to the no.” Here’s the good news: you don’t have to say “no,” you just have to say “I don’t know.” You’ll get back to them after you check your schedule, after you check with your husband, whatever. Wait at least six hours (or as long as possible) and then sweetly say that you’re not able to fulfill their request.

2. Don’t Make It Worse

Why sandwich an honest “no” with excuses? I can’t go to my meeting today because I’m pretty sure my neck is trying to kill me – there’s no need to pad that reasonable and truthful explanation with, “My neck’s been hurting since last night. I’ve been up since 4 a.m.! Ugh, I’ve had chronic pain since a concussion when I was 14. I’ll probably have to go to the chiropractor later…” Do you respect me after that array of justifications? You don’t.

3. Set Your Boundaries

It’s easier to say “no” if you’ve already decided what you are and are not comfortable with. When it comes to business, this means clarifying your goals – anything that falls outside of your career path is something you shouldn’t commit to. When it comes to friends, this gets trickier. Apply the six hour rule, make your decision and then use it as a precedent for future choices. After all, I don’t really know how I feel about giving your cat a diabetes shot until you ask. So my very definite answer right now is: maybe.


Lindsay Pietroluongo is a full-time freelance writer in the Hudson Valley. Her work has appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal and Chronogram magazine. Lindsay also writes business content and marketing materials for professionals through her boutique writing company Poison Apple Ink and runs a lifestyle blog And the Pursuit. Visit Lindsay on the Rocks to learn more. Lindsay can be seen on Hudson Valley Insider each Thursday under the Lifestyle section.


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