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The Word "NO" May Be Your Best Friend

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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Some people just don't know how to say "no", whereas others say "no" just as soon as the words tumble out of the speaker's mouth. If you lean more toward the former, this article is for you. It's time for you to develop the self-assurance to say "no" - to your kids, to your spouse, to your parent, to a friend, to a salesperson, to whomever.

The ability to say "no" will reap great benefits. Here are 3 of them:

  • As you increase your ability to say "no," your "yes" becomes more appreciated. Let this point really sink in. It's super important.
  • The ability to say "no" helps you make good decisions. (Isn't this what you want your kids to do - to think on their own and not just go along with the crowd?)
  • The ability to say "no" builds character. Yes, there are times when it's tough to look a loved one in the eye and disappoint him. But if you always go along with what he wants, you're not living life honestly or courageously.

Now that you agree that the word "no" may be your best friend, let's look at how to say "no"- without feeling bad or guilty. Here are 4 styles of saying "no." They are all useful at different times, in different situations and with different people.

  • If you are a pleaser, you'll probably want to limit your use of a blunt "no" (i.e. "No, I won't do it." "No, I'm not going.")
  • Typically, you'll want to choose a polite "no" (i.e. "No, but thanks for asking me." "No, great idea, but I have this deadline staring me in the face.")
  • Or an accommodating "no" (i.e. "No, I can't edit your paper, but I will show you how to use spell-check.")
  • Or a "no" with an alternative (i.e. "No, I can't drive you now, but I can do it in an hour.")

Grant yourself the freedom to use the type of "no" that best fits the situation and the request. To make this article more personal for you, reflect on a situation in which you regretted saying "no." Which type of "no" do you think would have been best to use? Write down the exact words you wish you would have used. Put them in your wallet. Look at them every once in awhile. Guaranteed, a similar situation will happen soon, only this time you'll be prepared.

Copyright © 2009: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.
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