“No” can be a positive statement

You know the feeling: the word “yes” springs to your lips before you can stop it. Of course, these are occasions when “yes” is the answer, but what about those times when you find yourself agreeing, even though the sinking feeling in your stomach really should be “No”.

Some of us have great difficulty with this word. We think agreement is the path of least resistance, bur while we might avoid disappointing others, we create both internal and external conflicts for ourselves. When in doubt about how to respond to a request, a “Can I get back to you”, may be your best bet, allowing you time to consider:

  • Is the request harmonious with my goals, priorities and values?
  • Realistically, do I have the time and resources to accomplish what is being asked of me? Does the request require a sacrifice on my part to the extent that it jeopardizes my well-being?
  • Can the person find help from a more appropriate source?

If you’ve made the decision that the answer is “no”, the next challenge is to convey the message:

  • Take a deep breath, mentally review the answers to the questions above and calmly give your answer.
  • While you may want to express regret and explain your reasoning, avoid long, involved apologies and explanations. Remember, “No” can be a complete sentence.
  • Hold your ground. Remain open to reason, but don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into altering your position. If the request subsequently changes, again ask for time to consider your position.
  • Don’t look back. Focus on feeling good about taking a positive step on your own behalf.
  • So yes no can be a positive statement.