By Tina Deas, Dec 13 2016 03:56PM
Its a busy time of year and we can feel under pressure from all the extra stuff that we feel that we should do. Trying to please everybody can feel overwelming. This blog is to help those of you who would like to be more assertive at saying "NO" to demands and hopefully relieve some of the stress of trying to meet everyone else's needs.
Isn't it interesting that "NO” is one of the first words that we learn to say as tots? So why is it then, that when we reach adulthood, saying “NO” to other peoples' requests, can feel so difficult to say?
Small babies don't have any fear of expressing themselves and communicating their needs. They openly cry when they are upset and smile when they are happy - they don't worry about what other people think about them - if they are hungry then they want food .. NOW!
As babies grow into children they very quickly learn to adapt their behaviour to the kind of responses that they receive from their parents and others. They soon learn to become conditioned to do what others want in order not to upset them - thereby keeping themselves feeling attended to and “safe”.
When we reach adulthood, these patterns of behaviour have become ingrained. This means that we can find ourselves hiding our feelings whilst putting other peoples' feelings, needs and wants before our own - still fearful that we will be disapproved of, rejected and hurt. This is an unassertive type of behaviour called “people pleasing”.
Unfortunately the long term effect of people pleasing and being unassertive is an erosion of our self esteem – our valuing of ourselves – often leaving us feeling undervalued, not good enough and resentful.
Assertiveness is a way of communicating with others. When we are being assertive, we are able to communicate our feelings, thoughts and beliefs in an open, honest manner, without violating the rights of other people.
Being assertive means that we are able to ask for what we want from others and also that we can say “No” to the requests of others.
The good news is that because we have all learned to be the way we are, we are all able to learn how to behave differently!
By learning and practising the few simple and effective techniques listed below:-
You can learn how to say “NO” in an assertive way.
You will begin to feel more comfortable saying “NO”.
You will feel less fearful that saying "NO" will upset those who request you to do something for them.
You will feel less worried about the consequences of saying “NO”.
1. REALISE THAT IT IS OK TO SAY “NO”
The first step in assertiveness is to realise that as a human being you have a right to your feelings – no matter what they are. There is no such thing as a forbidden feeling; they are either positive or negative. Your feelings are a guide, they help you to decide what is OK with you and what is not. So when somebody makes a request, ask yourself how you feel about the request and if you are you really OK to do what is being asked of you. If you are not OK with it, accept how you feel about it and realise that you have a right to say “NO” to the request.
2. BE RESPECTFUL AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE PERSON WHO ASKED
Being assertive rather than selfish or aggressive means asserting your feelings, thoughts and beliefs whilst acknowledging those of others.
3. YOU CAN POLITELY REFUsE SOMETHING OR SOMEONE IN A VERY RESPECTFUL MANNER
If you acknowledge the other person’s feelings, you are being assertive rather than selfish or aggressive. You won’t offend anyone by respecting yourself and your rights and by thinking first about what’s really important to you.
“Thank you for asking me, that was really thoughtful of you but “no” thank you.
4. DONT APOLOGISE
Because of the guilt that comes with saying “NO” we often tend to apologise for saying it. You do not need to apologise, in fact by saying that you are really sorry leaves room for other people to try to persuade you to change your mind.
5. KEEP YOUR REPLY SHORT
More often than not the best way to say “NO” is to keep it simple. There is no need to over explain your actions and your reasons for declining requests with long rambling justifications. Try to be calm, sincere and polite and you will surely keep the situation under control. Most people prefer to receive an honest “NO” than a big fib.
6. TAKE RESPONSIBIBILITY AND AVOID SAYING "I CAN'T”
“I can’t” sounds like an excuse and it gives the other person ammunition for arguing that you can.
7. PROVIDE ALTERNATIVES
It is not necessary to do so, but if you feel the need to provide another alternative to someone’s request then you could propose it to them. You can do this as an act of good will and it is usually met with appreciation for the effort you take to help them. This helps to ease the negative impact of a refusal.
8. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE - ASK FOR MORE TIME
If you are not sure, don’t feel pressurised to make a decision there and then – you are entitled to ask for more time rather than make a rash decision because to feel put on the spot. You can then assess how you feel about the request and whether it is OK with you or if it is not OK with you. If t is not OK with you then you can assertively say "NO" to the request.
"I have given it some thought and although I know that you really want me to, I have decidied not to do it".
9. WRITE DOWN YOUR ANSWER
If you have difficulties in declining a specific request from someone who is really important to you, you could first try writing it down. This way you can rehearse the way in which to say “NO” and you will also decrease your anxiety and stress associated with the refusal. You will see that with a little bit of practice you will feel more in control as you assertively say “NO”
Practice saying “NO!” It may seem hard at the beginning to just say “NO” to people that you have always said “YES” to before but you will see that with enough practice it will get easier and you will feel better about yourself.
AND PLEASE REMEMBER:-
If you learn to respect yourself and your needs then other people will too.
If you answer friends truthfully ”YES” or “NO” then it is easier for them to ask.
You are not rejecting the person, only the request.
Whenever you say ”YES” to something, you are saying “NO” to something else (which may be yourself!)
(Photo by Tabphoto)