In a world where boundaries are increasingly malleable, learning to say “no” is both a challenge and a feat.
The tradition of political correctness and outmoded obsequiousness has accustomed many of us to say “yes” even in situations that go against our moral compass.
The fact is, we have been led to believe that saying “no” is selfish, rude and has conditioned us to have a false fear of disappointing others.
However, that simple monosyllable can be an unexpected source of respect and empowerment; it implies that we know our limits and are willing to make others respect them.
Moreover, denying ourselves the right to say “no” is often one reason behind emotional exhaustion, stress, and irritability; it may even be one of the main obstacles behind our personal growth.
Knowing that it’s no simple matter to learn to say “no,” here are five key tips to break through the gags and reclaim your boundaries.
It’s OK to allow yourself to be upset
The first step in learning to say “no” is recognizing how annoying it is to always be complacent, at the risk of our own well-being.
Allow yourself to be annoyed, not with yourself, but with the waste of time, energy, and resources it takes to always say yes. Only then will you recognize the value of your availability.
Understand what they are really asking of you
Once you recognize the value of your time and your willingness, take a few seconds to understand exactly what they are asking of you. Ask yourself, Where is this person coming from? Is their request fair to me? What will it mean to me?
Often, empathy will tell you everything you need to know.
Avoid creating excuses
This is perhaps the hardest part. Saying “no” without giving in to the impulse to make exaggerated excuses is also part of breaking with the self-imposed tradition of complacency. Our time and energy are precious, and we should not give explanations to anyone who, in one way or another, seeks to ease his or her own way.
Saying “NO” does not mean you are disrespectful
“I’m sorry, but I can’t”; “with all due respect, it’s not in my capabilities” are some phrases that can help you express your feelings while setting boundaries at the same time. The principle of communication is to recognize the individuality of our interlocutor. However, we do not have to lose our own respect along the way!
Be proactive about it
Saying “no” should not remain a closed refusal. Part of the respect behind setting boundaries is recognizing that perhaps the other person really needs help. It costs us nothing to offer alternatives and remain comfortable with our decision.