How to Say No While Keeping Family + Friends Content

December 9, 2018 Published by
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Today, I am going to use myself as a case study. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, girlfriend, and entrepreneur. My life like yours, darlings, consists of intermingling with all types of people and issues. Most of my conversations are normal daily chatter. I laugh, debate, consult, compromise, mediate and even haggle. I am an extrovert and enjoy the art of conversation.

But, it becomes uncomfortable for me to turn down a request with a “no” or voice my opinion when I am faced with an uncomfortable situation with close friends and loving family members. I fear it may poison my relationship, so I sometimes swallow hard and say “yes” to avoid unpleasant consequences. And, to be sure, I avoid confrontations with family members, at all costs and I don’t think that is always wise. I am a sage and have wisdom behind my name and know I can be of help. And yet, I keep silent. Can you relate?

When should you say no?

There are many problems we face because we say “yes” when we want to say “no.” In the long run, saying “yes” can damage relationships just as deeply as saying “no.” And, not speaking your mind to children or grands because you want, at all costs, to keep the peace, can cause serious long-term problems.

There are many problems that as grandmothers we can nip in the bud with our grands before they become full-blown. We can do this simply by speaking up.

I decided I was doing an injustice to myself and my family and friends by keeping silent when I could be of help. And saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no” is not acceptable so I took the bull by the horns and signed up at the International Karrass School to take a two-day seminar in the Art of Negotiation.

I felt that if I learned the skills of negotiation, I would do justice to myself and those I cared for and loved.

Wow, did I do myself a favor.

Learning to say no

I learned how to say “no” comfortably. It is all about being able to justify your answer. Your no is always backed up by truth and logic. This immediately gives you the confidence to say, “no.” You are comfortable because you can validate your “no.” You are authentic in your reply. This gives you great emotional power because the recipient of your “no” is likely to realize that what you are saying has merit.

I also learned…

1.   If I am put on the spot, I back away and use a delay tactic. “I’ll get back to you.” This gives immediate control over the situation and time to think about the response. Make sure you keep your word and call with your answer, which just may be “no.”

2. Be honest with yourself. Friends and family appreciate and respect frankness.

3. Your tone of voice is important. Let family and friends know that your refusal is not rejection. You simply cannot comply with their request.

4. Long discussions are a no-no when you say “no.” Sometimes not explaining is more effective than going into a long explanation. Keep your answer simple.  “I am sorry I am not available. I have an appointment.” If your friend persists, say, “I’d rather not discuss it.”

5.  Respect your boundaries. In other words…no is no! “No” is not maybe nor is it yes. It is called consistency.

I leave you with a quote I adore, by humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”

That’s “no” longer my problem. 🙂

Have you mastered the art of saying “no?” Do tell! Please share your thoughts with me via TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram or in the comments section below.

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4 Comments

  • Lisa Billings says:

    I had to learn how to say no years ago. It wasn’t easy. But as you advise, the less said the better, because my no is final. It is not the preamble to negotiation. Usually, I say “ No, I don’t think so” with a smile. Or, “ No, not this time.” “ No, thank you” covers many, many situations. If I am forced to repeat or defend my no, then I say with a smile, “ I don’t believe you understand that my answer this time is “ No”. It’s deliberately mysterious. It does not reflect judgement, personal animus or hope of wiggle room. It works every time.

  • Jareen Sherman says:

    I know for a fact that I do have a hard time saying NO!! but at my age after my own families and so-called friends who I have given so much to, have turned their backs on me, I have to say NO!!! reasons are that I am not getting any younger, and being at the age I am having no one to turn to is very hard. Hard lesson learned, but well learn.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Dear Jareen, We all suffer from disappointments. Unfortunately, none of us are immune. I have suffered too. I use a method called antifragility. I stopped letting myself become fragile. In a family where several members may be unkind, seek out the one member who is kind. In friendship, have different sets of women in your life. If three stop talking to you-you still have one left. In other words, I have learned the hard way to, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.” Understand? Warmly, Honey

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