The Art of Saying “No” and Meaning It

Some people don’t have a problem saying “no,” while others have a huge problem with it. Most of it boils down to how comfortable you are with setting boundaries; and this is where the real issue comes in for most of us.

Generally, we learn to set boundaries from our parents. However, if we grew up in an environment where our boundaries where consistently ignored and not respected we tend to also find ourselves unable to set and keep healthy boundaries. Instead, we will repeat what we are familiar with, which may make us miserable, but also may be the only way we know how to be.

The art is to not just learn saying “no,” but meaning it and sticking to your guns. Because if we do not, we only send the message that our word is meaningless and that anyone can bully us into submission, by merely applying the right amount of pressure, manipulation or threat. This, in return, will leave us feeling weak and resentful; and too much pinned up rage will actually make us physically ill over time.

In order to say “no” you will first have to know what’s stopping you. You can only find a way to clearly communicate what you want if you’re fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This includes questions like why you don’t stand up for yourself, why you just give in, and what compels you to agree to things you never meant to agree to.

If you are about to be run over by someone who is trying to force or manipulate you into giving in, just remember similar or even exactly-the-same situations from the past, and more importantly the consequences and cost to your sanity, bank account or self-esteem. What makes human beings unique is the, at least in theory, ability to learn from our mistakes. Repeating the same patterns over and over, regardless of what it does to us or others, makes us not only weak, but also pretty insane. It doesn’t matter how long it takes a person to “get it” as long as they are getting it eventually and it is never too late to get it, i.e. to do the right thing!

When someone asks me for a favor, or is requesting something from me, I think about the following things before I grant it, commit or simply say “yes.”

1. What do I want?

2. Can I grant this favor or request realistically, i.e. do I have the time and resources?

3. What will it cost me if I default on my promise?

4. What will it cost me if I have to deliver on it, i.e. will I be able to live with that decision?

5. How “big” is the request and who is making it?

I always look at patterns in people’s behaviors and find that the most outlandish or unreasonable requests generally come from the same type of individuals. Knowing what that type is allows me to weed out the “high risk” people before they can cause me harm. Plus, I watch my own patterns and I keep track of my past choices and how they have affected me negatively. This allows me to literally say “never again” and move on.
We all have the right to say no to things that we don’t want to be part of, and things we disagree with. Saying no does not require an explanation and is delivered best in a quiet, but firm voice.

And finally, I’m going to quote Dr. Seuss, whose quote I live by:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!”

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Saying “No” and Meaning It

  1. misskrystalmisskrystal

    Really great one, Carmen. A lot of people don’t like hearing, “No.”
    Some people will not stay around, when we say “No” and that is what is so wonderful about it, we get to find out who really likes and respects us. Saying, “No” could be your best tool in order to find out who really appreciates you and likes you, for you….No matter what, it takes a real pro to walk away and not let it bother us, when we see the person we said “no” to has an issue…The key is to remind yourself that you deserve respect, and you don’t want people in your life who do not respect you. It’s a great way to find out who is really good for you, in any type of relationship. Miss Krystal

  2. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Loved this article !!!! and especially the saying, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!”

    This is so true ! Another great article by Carmen….well done !

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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