How to say no with compassion and still be heard.
Are you a yes person? Do you find yourself saying yes even when you want to say no? Do people come to you for help because they know you won’t say no? Do you find people talking you out of your no?
I’ve been there, too! Saying no doesn’t have to be hard. But it does take practice and some pattern changing. Saying no is also one of the personal boundaries we all have a right to have.
Boundaries are something most of us have to learn. Some of us learn it earlier than other. I was a late learner.
I was married for 14 years to someone I was completely head-over-heels in love with. It wasn’t a healthy marriage and it wasn’t always a happy marriage. But we loved each other very much. There’s one more thing that you should probably know. My marriage was an abusive marriage.
Over the course of that marriage, my personal boundaries slowly dissolved. It wasn’t something I set out to do, but that is typical for someone in an abusive relationship. It’s common for the abuser to purposefully encroach on boundaries. It’s common for the abusee to decide it’s easier and safer to let the boundaries fall away.
When I left the marriage in 2007 with two suitcases and my daughter, I had a distorted sense of boundaries. My boundaries weren’t boundaries. They were finely honed skills that made me a professional in people pleasing and peace keeping. Over the past 9 years, through focused study and my own healing, I have learned how much boundaries enrich our lives.
Here are the top 10 tips I’ve come to rely on to saying no with compassion and still be heard.
1. Make sure you really mean no. If you are wishy-washy, other people sense it and will try – and often succeed – to persuade your no into a yes.
2. Recognize that you actually respect people when they have firm boundaries. The people you resent are not the people who tell you no. You resent the people that say they’ll do something and then don’t show up. People that say yes but mean no often do a job half way and then they are filled with resentment.
3. Say no with joy and a smile. “I’d love to help you with the bake sale but it won’t work for me.” Smile and STOP TALKING. In sales, there is an old adage that she who talks last goes home with the product. When you are just learning how to say no, if you keep talking, YOU will be the one to turn your own no into a yes.
4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for saying no. People that make you justify a decision are the people you need the boundaries with most. Just say no with a smile! And then stop talking.
5. The more you say about why you are saying no, the more ammunition you are giving someone else about how to turn a no into a yes. Hopefully most of the people in your life aren’t going to make you justify why you are saying no. But if they do, the more you say; the more the other person the other person has to work with to overcome your objections and turn your no into a yes.
6. When you arrive with a laundry list of all the reasons why you can’t or don’t want to do something, you are really trying to convince yourself that your saying no is justified. Refer back to number 1: make sure you really mean no. Just wanting to say no is enough of a reason to say no.
7. Melody Beattie, author of Co-Dependent No More says, “We cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of another person’s feelings.” You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. If they choose to be sad or miserable because you took care of yourself and said no, that is that person’s decision.
8. You don’t have to defend your no. A Course in Miracles says “In my defenselessness lies my defense.” Smile, then change the subject or walk away.
9. There will be someone else who will say yes. Think of all the things you say yes to that bring you joy and enrich your life. This thing you want to say no to doesn’t bring you joy. Let someone do it who will feel the joy!
10. If you really believe that you are the only one that can do this it’s time to give yourself a reality check. Can it be delegated or hired out? Can you ask for help? Are you trying to be a people pleaser or a martyr? Did everyone in the world say no? Are you using saying yes to fill another need or feel important? Be honest with yourself and then be realistic about how much you can handle. At a certain point, you won’t be helpful if you are exhausted, sick or resentful.
And there you have it! 10 tips that can help you to say no with compassion and still be heard.
Still looking for ways to shore up your boundaries and create a life you’ve always dreamed of? You will enjoy my “Chart Your Own Course” class and/or my “Empowered You” Class.
I hope this has been of service to you. If so, please share!!
I’ll be back on Thursday with your Thursday tip and on Saturday with your weekly angel card reading. Love and light to you!
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