By consciously saying yes and no you create new rules for your life. But why don’t we always do that? Why do we sometimes say yes when we mean no?
Yes out of guilt
William Ury, author of the book “The Power of a Positive No,” claims that we often say yes to please people, even to people who are not our friends. Saying yes to people you barely know often comes at the expense of time you can spend with the people you love most. Saying no gives us time for ourselves. When we say no more often, we have time to say yes to the things that really matter.
According to Ury, it is guilt or fear of confrontation that often makes us say yes to other people’s priorities. Thoughtlessly saying yes to what others want from us often means spending money, time and energy on things that are not always our priority.
You can learn to say no
Saying no is something you can learn. Starting by doing it. That is not only nice for yourself, but also clearly for others. But how do you do that if you said yes for years when you meant no?
The eternal pleaser
Coach and communication trainer Natascha van Weerden guides people who often say yes and mean no. Who are those people? “They are often people who are very perfectionists and want to please others. People with a great sense of responsibility. They are often also people who have a very good sense of others. For example, they are sensitive to intonation. They want to say no themselves, but they feel that it is better for the people around them to say yes at that moment.”
What are you sensitive to?
Another reason why we sometimes say yes and mean no is when we are afraid to confront things. Saying yes and meaning no often has to do with the outside world. But not always. “It is ideal if you can be one hundred percent yourself and are happy with who you are. We put a lot of effort into showing the outside world who we are. But it is much more important to know who you are. If you are confident and know what you really want, you are less sensitive to opinions and wishes from the outside world.”
And even then you can be persuaded by others to give in where you actually wanted to refuse. Natascha: “There are people who are very good at persuading others, who can provoke you in a creative way.”
As an example, she gives a work situation where it is almost six o’clock and you want to go home. “Then a colleague comes to you and says very sweetly, but forcefully, that something needs to be done and you are the only one who can do that. Because you are so good, so smart or so fast. Those are the intelligent ones. They know exactly what you are sensitive to.” They consciously respond to something that you are unconsciously very sensitive to. For example, for appreciation (you are so good at that) or your sense of duty (it has to be finished). “If the other person knows what you are sensitive to, you are easier to manipulate.”
This is how you say NO
Don’t use excuses
American researchers Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt had test subjects say no to an important request. Half were instructed to say ‘no, I can’t’ (excuse), the others were told to say ‘no, I won’t do it’ (opinion). And guess what? The people who used an excuse (no, I can’t) found it harder to get out of requests or obligations. An excuse provides room for discussion so that the other person can persuade you to do something after all. Saying no without explanation shows that you have clear boundaries for yourself that the other person must take into account.
Take a break
When you feel like someone is bombarding you with a question, take a break. Get coffee, go to the bathroom or ask for time to think about it. Take the initiative yourself and say when you will get back to it. Especially if your impulse is to respond the way someone else wants you to, it is good to make time to think about what you want.
Know your basic needs
We often say yes when we mean no. Look at this list of 12 basic needs and ask yourself which ones are most important to you. Which buckets are well or less filled and how do you notice this in conversation with others? Think back to a time when you said yes and meant no and try to see if one of these basic needs was behind it. What need would you like to see fulfilled? This way you can discover where your sensitivities lie
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Offered to you by Francis van Schaik
Francis van Schaik
Francis van Schaik is a coach of young people and also a student of human relationships with nature, the world and Truth. She regularly contributes to our online magazine. Francis is the regular contributor of articles in this page.