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How to just say no

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We tie ourselves up in knots, doing things we don't want to do instead of politely refusing.

London - It’s the two-letter word that many of us find impossible to say. Whether it’s our boss, our children or our friends, we tie ourselves up in knots, doing things we don’t want to do instead of politely refusing.

“People are trained into saying Yes by their upbringing, to keep the peace or to be polite. Bear in mind that the world’s not going to end if you say No - the word is simply an exchange of information,” says clinical psychologist Jane McCartney.

But how do you actually do it? From refusing a date to not giving in to a pushy friend, here’s Jane’s expert’s guide...

BUY TIME

For many of us, the word Yes flies out of our mouths as a panic response - so practise the phrase: “Can I get back to you on that?”

It should be the first thing you say to anyone. Do not be pushed into giving an answer. If they persist, say: “I have to look at my diary,” and remember that if someone gets annoyed or huffy, it is their problem.

EVALUATE

If you’re asked to do someone a favour, decide whether you have time. The issue at the heart of saying No is whether you should put your own needs ahead of others.

Sometimes you should put others first - the world would be a rotten place if you didn’t help out friends, family and colleagues from time to time. But we also have to look after our own interests.

BE POLITE

Carried out well - with a smile and a light but assertive tone - a polite refusal won’t cause offence. Saying No doesn’t mean being rude.

Simply say: “I’m sorry but I can’t help this time,” or “I’m sorry but I’m not free then”. You don’t have to justify yourself. The more you explain and apologise the more ammunition you are giving the other person to try to change your mind.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

If the very thought of uttering the two-letter word is terrifying, then start saying No in situations that don’t matter.

So, if you’re not in a position to help, perhaps give a firm No to a charity street worker, or to a door-to-door salesman.

KEEP A FAVOUR TALLY

Do you ever notice the people who ask you favours time and again are rarely the type to return them? These people are not real friends.

Real friends will not want to take advantage of you, and only call on you in an emergency. If you notice someone is taking more than they are giving, start a mental tally.

If it becomes clear that they are taking this to extremes, step back from them for a while. You don’t have to end the friendship, but make yourself less available. You’ll probably find that they’ll quickly move on to someone else they can make excessive demands of.

DON’T BE BULLIED

Saying No to a pushy boss in the current climate is a tricky one, with many of us under pressure to work late and do two people’s jobs.

But if a colleague is constantly asking you for help and doing so means you’re struggling to manage your own time, then you need to employ a clear but polite No.

If you feel the need to explain, keep it brief, but don’t apologise. If it’s your boss asking, then always offer a solution - it shows ingenuity and dedication - but let them know where your boundaries are.

BE HONEST

Saying No to a date can be the hardest to do - so excruciating in fact that sometimes we end up going on one we don’t want to for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or making up excuses as to why we are not available.

Being truthful about not wanting to accept is the best course of action. It is tempting to soften the blow with a white lie, but it’s better in the long run not to give your suitor false hope.

Saying you’d rather just be friends is fine if that really is the truth, but then you’ll need to follow up by spending friendly time with them. - Daily Mail

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