Every one of us knows that. One is asked to do something by another person and one immediately notices how the mind loudly says “Say NO!”, But there is also this other voice, which whispers softly but unmistakably: “Say Yes!”
And the really sad thing is that this soft but unmistakable voice is gaining the upper hand in many of these situations and making us say “yes” instead of “no” in the end.
But why is that? Why do we often have a problem with setting our own priorities higher in certain situations than the priorities of others? Why is it often difficult for us to give a clear, but polite “no” answer?
Say no as a tool for more success in life
The reasons why it is difficult for us to say no can have different origins and the ability to pronounce a no is demonstrably part of a tool of successful & self-confident people who know how to use it properly to move forward in their lives To achieve goals.
Please do not get me wrong here! Helping a friend or colleague here and there, even if you do not really feel like it, is completely ok.
In fact, it is actually our duty as good people – all of whom are without question – not always to think about ourselves and sometimes put our own interests back.
But the bitter truth is that if this becomes the rule and you can NEVER do enough backbone to reject a request or offer, you make yourself less important than others! You start to queue up in the queue of life over and over again!
For this reason, I would like to explain in detail below why it is so difficult for us to say “no” and how exactly you start training this ability.
Because saying “no” correctly is actually something that can be trained and learned! In order to acquire this ability, one should first have understood what the reasons are that it is so difficult for us to say “no”.
Why do we say “yes” instead of “no”?
Why in situations where we should rather say “no”, but only a “yes” bring out, is actually obvious.
Somewhere deep in our minds there is an extremely limiting set of beliefs that makes us believe that it is better for us in each situation to say “yes” instead of “no”.
This limiting belief is the quiet voice in our head that was mentioned at the beginning, which urges us to say “yes” instead of “no.” But where does this limiting belief come from and how will I get rid of it?
It all starts again in childhood
Often the germ of this belief is implanted to us very early, strictly speaking, in childhood. As children we all go through the so-called “defiance phase”. This is the passage in a child’s life in which it begins to experiment with what happens when it does not give in and fails in certain situations.
When we learn as a child at this time of our environment – especially of our parents – then negative reactions, such as rejection and consequences, gradually begins to solidify in us the belief that it is often better or easier “Yes” instead of ” No “to say.
But this is only the beginning! Over time, this nasty creed begins to spread in our minds, creating several “offshoots” that cause us to say “no” in adulthood.Oftmals wird uns der Keim für diesen Glaubenssatz schon sehr früh, genau genommen im Kindesalter eingepflanzt. Als Kinder durchlaufen wir alle die sogenannte „Trotzphase“. Das ist der Abschnitt im Leben eines Kindes, in dem es beginnt damit zu experimentieren, was passiert, wenn es in bestimmten Situationen nicht nachgibt und zuwiderhandelt.
Erfahren wir als Kind zu dieser Zeit von unserer Umwelt – insbesondere von unseren Eltern – dann negative Reaktionen, wie Ablehnung und Konsequenzen, beginnt sich nach und nach in uns der Glaubenssatz zu festigen, dass es oftmals besser oder einfacher ist „Ja“ anstelle von „Nein“ zu sagen.
Doch das ist nur der Anfang! Über die Zeit beginnt sich dieser fiese Glaubenssatz in unserem Verstand auszubreiten und mehrere „Ableger“ entstehen, die zur Ursache dafür werden, dass es uns auch im Erwachsenenalter schwerfällt „Nein“ zu sagen.
Causes why we find it difficult to say no:
Fear of rejection
In all of us is still the primal instinct of others to be liked. Just as it was important for the Neanderthal to be liked and accepted by his flock in order to survive, so we still believe that we need the favor of others like the air to breathe.
Not infrequently, we even try to put our own priorities, interests and goals behind to be everyone’s darling. In the family, friends and acquaintances, but also in the job, we therefore strive to be liked by others.
Of course we have now realized that we can survive if we are not liked by others. But this limiting belief in our mind has not disappeared – it just changed! The “modern” version now states that what others think about us is important. Often even more important than what we think about ourselves!
And if we offend others with a clear and decisive “no”, there is a high probability that we will upset them and they will not like us at all, or at least a little less. Of course, this bites us with this limiting belief, which in such a case causes a pain in us which we will try to avoid next time by saying “yes” instead of “no”.
Tip: Sort out the people in your life who only like you when you’re of use to them and always do what they want. You do not need them!
Being branded as an egoist:
This cause is something like a concrete expression of No. 1 (fear of rejection & rejection). But because many negative / weak people try to use this cause as a weapon against us to make us say “yes” instead of “no,” I wanted to explicitly list them here.
We ourselves have made it a point not to be selfish. So we DO NOT try to see ourselves as an egoist! In fact, we were taught that through social conditioning. And even though social conditioning is bad in most cases, it is quite good – at least in part. For the world would not be a beautiful place if everyone always and everywhere would only think of themselves.
But be sure to realize that there is such a thing as healthy selfishness. Healthy selfishness, or simply “self-love,” does not mean being less important than you actually are.
The next time someone calls you an “egoist” or “heartless” when you decline a request or offer, remember that this person is just trying to use your own values against you to manipulate and bring you “Yes ” accept. You yourself will know best whether you really are an egoist and when it just makes sense to activate your healthy egoism and politely say “no.”
The fear of being unimportant:
Just as we would like to be liked by others, we also want to be needed by them. We want to know that we are important to others and not infrequently the way through which we try to gain access to this knowledge lies in the search for affirmation.
So, when we do something that we did not really want to do (do a request or do someone a favor), we often do that with a more or less strong hope that in return we feel a sense of meaning.
If we begin to doubt our importance for others, we begin to lose our meaning and suddenly life makes less and less sense. Like the Neanderthals in his day, we have a deep fear of our role (which we have imposed on ourselves) and thus lose our identity.
So, when we say “yes” instead of “no,” we often do that to get some kind of praise from the other person, which confirms us and makes us feel needed. In truth, there is only one person who can make you feel important and needed by others, namely YOU!
The fear of missing something:
That is one reason why it is difficult for us to say no, which is not obvious and therefore often overlooked. Especially in the circle of friends and family we want to have the feeling that we are present at every important moment – we do not want to miss anything!
And so we tend to follow every invitation and every meeting, even if the whole thing turns out to be a waste of time. Saying “no” to a family or work party could possibly mean you missed something!
It is clear that if you find it difficult to say no, because you are afraid to miss something and want to be “in the action”, you definitely lack clear priorities in your life! Only those who know their priorities, will have no problem with an invitation from friends or acquaintances sometimes even thankfully refuse.
The fear of conflicts:
In most cases, the people we answer with a “no” to their request or offer will not respond with joy and total understanding. On the contrary, they often seem a little annoyed or offended. Now and then this can even lead to quarrels and conflicts.
Here it is important to remain objective and to ask yourself first: “Can I afford a conflict with this person?” For example, if it is the supervisor, it may be more useful to pursue the request or the offer, rather than him / her directly hit a clear “no” in front of the bib.
However, if there are no serious consequences that could result from such a conflict, the fear of it must not cause one to say “yes” instead of “no”. Be aware that you have already mastered a lot of conflicts in your life and that they now belong to each other.
So instead of being afraid of having such conflicts, you’d better be scared of putting your own goals, interests and priorities behind you. And who wants to start a fight right off the fence, just because you do not want to pursue his request, he or she may not appreciate you and might just want to take advantage of you. Think about it.
The fear of changing something:
This cause has deep roots and it takes a lot of work to get rid of them. More people than you might think suffer from the fear of change. Maybe you too !? This fear stems from the human need for security and stability.
Change in many cases means something bad! At least many people still believe that. And if you suddenly say no instead of yes, the consequences can lead to drastic changes in life. The (long overdue) end of a friendship or possibly even job loss (which in reality is a very, very unlikely scenario).
Only if you accept that changes to life are part of it, you can let go of this fear and in the moments when you simply know that it is better to say “no” instead of “yes”, gather your courage and the possible consequences put. You’ll see that they are not as bad as you might have imagined!
The fear of being alone:
With the fear of rejection or rejection, the fear of being alone comes automatically. We imagine someone who has turned down a favor, an offer, or a request turns their backs on us and wants nothing more to do with us. Of course, that’s just an overreaction of our minds, because once you’ve learned to say no, you’ll see that this does not happen so fast. At least not with people you care about.
And the people who can not accept a “no” from you and because of that want to be offended and insulted or even break off contact with you, these people you should cut out of your life without a guilty conscience.
The fear of guilt or remorse:
This is one of the most common reasons why saying no is so difficult. If you hit someone out with a request or a favor, you will be plagued by guilty feelings or remorse in the very next moment.
You start to believe that you are not a good person or even a bad person just because you said no. Of course, the total nonsense we got taught. Just as we are taught to be an egoist from an early age, so we are also taught to always think of the feelings of others.
Exactly this leads in the situations in which one wants to say “no” to the fact that one puts the feelings of others over the own and threatening feelings of guilt make it difficult to actually pronounce the “no”.
You have to realize that there is no reason to feel guilty about making a request, an offer or a favor to either not be exploited or to safeguard your own interests, goals & priorities. Read on to find out how to say “no” without feeling guilty.
The fear is the opponent!
You may have noticed that all the reasons we have just given why we find it so difficult to say no have a common word, “fear.”
As already said, the first step is to learn to say no in the understanding of the causes of this problem. Knowing why we find it difficult to say no can help you the next time you find yourself in such a situation, seeing them in a completely different light, making it easier to say ‘no’.
Ultimately, it should be less interesting for you for what reason you prefer to say “yes” instead of the intended “no” in a certain situation, but you just have to understand that you’re always doing that because you’re scared of something.
So the real enemy in this story is not the person asking you for a favor or the situation you are trying to avoid, but the enemy is your own fear! In order to defeat this fear and thus also delete the limiting beliefs, let us now briefly look at what advantages and disadvantages has the yes and no say.
The pros and cons of saying yes
Benefits to say “Yes” :
- We are rather liked (at least we believe that)
- We avoid conflicts
- We avoid guilt
- We can call ourselves good, selfless people
- We feel we are self-sacrificing and needed
Disadvantages to say “yes”:
- We put our interests & priorities behind
- We are prevented from achieving our own goals
- We are often exploited
- We are mad at ourselves and at others
- We are disappointed with ourselves and others
The advantages and disadvantages of saying no
Benefits to say “no”:
- We learn to love and appreciate ourselves more
- We have more time to pursue our own interests and pursue our goals
- We feel more confident, freer and more independent
- We are more self-confident, stronger and more attractive to others
Disadvantages to say “no”:
- We annoy or disappoint wrong friends, colleagues or sellers
- We get into conflict with people who just want to take advantage of us
- We will not be to everyone’s favorite
- We can not blame anyone else if we can not shape our lives the way we want them / we have to take responsibility for our lives ourselves
As you can see, there are pros and cons both for no-saying and yes-saying. So before you start learning to say no, it’s important to consider whether you really want that at all? Are you ready to give up the benefits of saying yes and accept the potential disadvantages of saying no?
Or better said, is it more important to you to be everyone’s darling and to avoid conflicts, or to pursue your goals, to be independent and to value yourself? I hope the last time!
Practice makes perfect / no saying
But how do you actually get from the notorious yes sayer, to the self-confident no-sayer? Now that we have looked at the reasons why it is often difficult for us to say “no” and also the advantages and disadvantages of yes and no saying, the magic word “exercise” is also mentioned here.
As with any process that falls into the area of personality development, saying no to it is not about looking at it as a kind of switch that you can directly flip over, but as a development process that will take time and practice.
So you do not become a no-sayer overnight and that means you have to practice it!
Visualize the situation and say “no”
Is there one, or maybe even more, situations that you know are hard to say “no” to? If so, then the easiest and best way to start saying no is to visualize this situation, to visualize it, and to say “no” to your thoughts first.
So make it a little mind game by trying as hard as you can to imagine how the situation (s) usually run, except that this time there is a huge difference: this time, you say “no” instead of “yes”!
Try to imagine how you feel a strong sense of confidence and security in this situation and how you are not afraid to say “no”. Just imagine how the other person could react to it, so that the next time the situation actually returns, you can be prepared for anything.
Just as professional athletes or racers use the visualization to get better results in competition or on the track, so too can you seize this tool to say “no” easier the next time around.
Practice with someone else or in front of a mirror
Another way to practice no-saying is to replay situations. Even better than with visualization, you can reconstruct the situations in a very detailed manner and put them into your mind and, in particular, emotionally.
As soon as you learn to say “no” successfully in such practice scenarios, the no-say will also be much easier for you in the real situation. If you can not find a partner who wants to reenact such a situation with you, you can of course practice alone in front of a mirror.
Of course, the beginning looks a bit silly and feels funny, but even stupid it looks, if you once again say “yes” instead of “no” and annoying you in retrospect.
Draw a border and build a fence for the next time
As I said, learning to say no is a process and not a switch. It will be necessary to put yourself in such situations over and over again and try to put into practice what you have learned and practiced when it matters. To grow gradually in the situations!
If it does not work the first few times, you must not hang your head. Setbacks are perfectly normal in personality development and are quite simple. So for “beginners” (if you do not quite dare say “no”) it can be very helpful to drive a “this is the last time” strategy.
The “this is the last time” strategy
What it means is that you tell the person who asks you again and again something that this is the last time and clearly signal to her that you are serious. Means: Direct eye contact and no giggles or anything like that, which would just destroy the credibility of your statement.
A properly communicated “This is the last time” will ensure that the person who often comes to you with a request, next time carefully thinks, if it will do it again. Because you pull a clear line and build the next time a fence that is not so easy to get past.
Say no without guilt & guilty conscience
Feelings of guilt or remorse on the subject of “no-say” are a real adversary that makes it difficult for us to reject a request or a favor. Often, others then use this opponent against us to make us say “yes” instead of “no.”
Should you expose such a manipulation attempt, it is already clear that any guilt or remorse should not arise here, because otherwise the other person has voluntarily gone to the door. On the contrary, rather than guilty feelings, there should be questions about why this person is trying to manipulate you and push you into something you do not want.
But even if someone asks you for something, without playing out the “guilt card”, it often happens that we ask ourselves in retrospect: “Would not I rather yes said yes?”
Such thoughts, and with them the guilt feelings or remorse, spring from the same limiting beliefs that give rise to the inability to say no. They are something of a last measure of belief in order to retune and follow us.
So anyone who is afraid to say no, because he does not want to fight with guilt or remorse afterwards, should think carefully about why it is so difficult for him / her to say no in the first place. Is it perhaps the fear of being labeled as an egoist or maybe the fear of conflict?
Whatever it is, feelings of guilt and remorse arise only when we have not completely fought / released those fears and we have not made a clear decision that a “no” is the right answer.
How do I say no, even if I’m taken by surprise?
A big issue with no-saying is how to say no to situations where you are surprised by a request, a task, a favor or an offer. So, if you did not expect that you have to “stand your man” and say no.
Give yourself time to think
Probably the simplest and smartest solution to the problem of being “taken by surprise” is to give you time to think about such situations.
“Hey, let me think about it and then let you know later.”
“I do not want to appeal right now, but I’ll sleep on it one night and let you know tomorrow.”
Such simple phrases are what you can use when you are at the beginning and have difficulty formulating a clear “no”.
So, if you put yourself in a situation where your gut instinct signalizes that a clear “no” is needed, but you still do not feel brave enough, then give yourself time to think.
This will then give you the opportunity to prepare, to do your exercises and finally to be able to tell the person a “no”. And if, after careful consideration, you choose to say “yes,” you can still do that, of course. By expressing the desire for some time to think, nothing is lost!
You can only be taken by surprise if you let yourself be taken by surprise!
Formulate as a statement and not as a question!
Formulate a desire to think time not as a question, but as a statement. A question would mean asking the other person for permission. However, your counterpart should not even get the opportunity to reject your request and thus your time to think.
For example: “Could I maybe think about it a little bit more?” Or “I would let you know a little later, if that’s ok?” He / she asks you for something! Not the other way around! Of course it is ok, if you think about it first.
Make it a habit
To ask for some time to think about a request or an offer is great and never the wrong one. So make it a habit that when someone asks you for something or offers you something, you take your time to think about it carefully.
Do not be afraid that the situation or the person can not wait! After all, they want something from you, and if your feeling and reason does not appeal right now, they’ll just have to give you time to think.
The last chance: the “white lie”
Of course this is not exactly optimal, but it often leads to the goal – the “white lie”. At least, a lie in such situations is often referred to as a “white lie,” but in truth, this is and remains a clear lie. After all, it’s not an emergency! We ourselves make the “emergency” because we have not learned to say no.
So, getting out of uncomfortable situations where you find it hard to “say no” to “no” must not become a habit.
After all, your goal is eventually self-confidently to be able to say no and not to mutate into a lying baron, right? Learn to renounce such “white lies” and you will feel how you have developed into a stronger, more self-confident and attractive person!
I hope I have been able to give you some helpful tips and procedures in this detailed article that will help you to say “no” the next time it becomes necessary again.
Start situations in which you know / feel that “no” is the right answer here, not to look at something that you need to avoid, but as something that gives you the opportunity to test yourself and grow!
I wish you a lot of pleasure and a lot of success.
Remember, “The ability to pronounce the word no is the first step to freedom!”
Use your potential