Do you have trouble saying no to your friend who asks you non-stop, to your family who forgets that you have a personal life, or even to your co-worker who makes you do part of his job? Discover without further delay, the advice of our coach, to finally assert yourself and learn to say no with tact.
Know “say not”, what does it mean ?
“Knowing how to say no to someone means being able to defend your resources and set your limits. Sometimes, it is also making trade-offs that concern others.”, explains Sylvie Riondel, coach, trained in positive psychology.
There are requests that concern you directly: we want your time, your money, your concentration, your power of work, your affection, your knowledge, your body… All your personal resources can be called upon one day or another.
There are also the influence games, which we often find as a parent or a manager. In this case, it is your power over others that some people want to use for their own benefit: your ability to arbitrate, choose, decide… In their favor!
Finally, sometimes, you also have to know how to say “no” to things which are not requested verbally, but quite simply imposed: you are presented with a fait accompli, more or less delicately, as if it were “obvious”. “For a lot of people, this is a difficult situation to handle diplomatically”, explains the coach.
We are constantly in a position to make choices and take decisions, and knowing how to assert ourselves, take our place, is essential.
Because knowing how to say no is to affirm what is acceptable, legitimate, by doing it with tact, preserving the relationship and respecting the interlocutors.
But knowing how to refuse something is also in certain cases “knowing how to ask”, as Sylvie Riondel reminds us, who gives this example: refusing to be in the same bureau that a person without a mask, in these times of Covidis to find a way to ask others to respect us, even if it is not said that way. Because fundamentally, it is mutual respect that is in the balance, respect for needs and respect for values, on both sides.
Saying “no” to what doesn’t suit us means being able to say “yes” to what we really want. It means regaining control over your time, space, resources and therefore over your life!
Lack of self-confidence, education… Why is it sometimes difficult to say “no”?
A lack of self-confidence can be the cause of a difficulty to refuse, but not always. There are people who are not very sure what their role involves, who find it difficult to define themselves, for example as a parent, and who hesitate between being firm and permissive.
Others have a very strong need to be loved or to be popular, and are afraid of breaking the relationship.
There is also the issue of managing emotions, which is central: the discomfort generated by the idea of ”countering” the person in front of you or of hurting them.
For still others, it may simply be a lack of know-how, which can turn into a lack of interpersonal skills (What turns of phrase to use, with what tone, how to react if it doesn’t work?)
Some people did not have an example in their childhood, or were discouraged (or punished) when they tried to position themselves. So much so that in adulthood, they are powerless when it comes to “knowing how to say no” and assert.
Identifying the reasons for this difficulty in asserting yourself in your personal or professional life already allows you to move forward!
I don’t know how to say no, to my friends, to my family, to my boss: what consequences?
The consequences of not knowing how to say no can be both emotional and concrete, palpable. This will depend on the attitude adopted by the one who does not know how to “say no” correctly:
- If the person who shows passivity : inhibited, she will accept too much, and will end up blaming herself and others.
- If the person manages their discomfort aggressively : she will have a more incisive behavior, will refuse, will say “no” brutally or aggressively.
- If the person is “passive-aggressive”: she will oscillate between these two attitudes: too often accepting what she would like to refuse, then exploding into aggressiveness under the effect of her frustration and her ruminations, which, for those around her is incomprehensible, because things are not clearly said and asked. “
“When you don’t know where the problem is, you can’t treat it! Psychologically, it’s hard to see that you can’t be genuine and balanced in your relationships, it’s very frustrating. at first, we blame ourselves, we ruminate a little, then we end up transferring our frustration to others, we blame them for our inability to position ourselves: basically, it would be enough for nobody to ask me anything for I have nothing to refuse! “, explains Sylvie Riondel.
The other consequence can be the look on us: sometimes, we are pityed or we are less respected. We can also cause irritation, by our hesitation or our relational brutality. Because a refusal must be formulated with tact in order to be accepted: if it is badly led, the person opposite may feel personally attacked, whereas what we refuse is a behavior, an act, an action, not the person who asks or solicits.
Take the time to ask yourself the right questions
To obtain lasting results, and effectively strengthen your self-confidence, the ideal is to first take the time to ask yourself the right questions, the ones that matter: what are my needs and values? So what are my priorities, and how can I arbitrate between conflicting intentions? Thus, it will be much easier to say “no”, if you know what you are saying “yes” to, you will be more stable, more motivated, more firm, and it will be more acceptable to those around you.
When you are clear about what gives meaning to your life, you can express it. For example : “Being a mom present in the highlights of my children’s lives is important to me. You will understand that I will not be attending the major seminar in June, which falls right around the time of graduation. you can count on me in July, for the next conference, I will come back very motivated! “. Here, it is not a question of justifying oneself, but quite simply of settling in a relationship. From this perspective, it can also help to appeal to the values of your interlocutors.
Train and gain self-confidence!
Self-confidence, and the ability to assert yourself, you need to work on. For small, everyday interactions, training is key! Can’t say no to your friends who ask you a lot, or to your colleague who asks you to do his job? Don’t panic, it’s not inevitable, but being able to say no tactfully takes practice.
For starters, you can learn typical sentences that will prevent you from saying “yes” without even realizing it. For example, : “I need to check my agenda before answering you”, Or simply, “I see your problem, I will think about how to help you on my own”, or “I can not accept, I suggest rather …”.
There are many ways to say “no”: we can partially accept, set conditions, postpone the answer, give explanations, reframe the requester, offer alternatives, refuse clearly with empathy, or be ultra-firm if the person persists, even if it means playing the broken record.
Each small step counts to gain self-confidence, and succeed in asserting yourself on a daily basis: start with small details, then, with more ease, you can finally say “no” with tact, to requests that involve you. more, without harming the relationship with your interlocutor.
Sylvie Riondel, coach, specialist in positive psychology, author of, Affirm yourself gently, Develop your assertiveness to reconcile self-assertion and respect for others (Éditions Eyrolles).
Read also :