How to say ‘no’ kindly and gracefully....
When we say no to someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, boss or colleague, it can cause disappointment. And disappointing someone can be uncomfortable. So being able to say ‘no’ kindly and gracefully is an important skill to develop.
In Cheryl Richardson’s classic book, ‘The Art of Extreme Self Care’, she shares some wonderful tips on how to disappoint people in the right way. I’ve taken these to heart and use them myself when I have decided to tell someone no. Here they are for you:
How to disappoint in the right way?
1. Buy some time – when someone makes a request – put some space between their request and your answer. Before quickly answering, give yourself some time to consider the consequences of your response. Some examples of phrases you can say to allow yourself some time and space before you reply are: ‘Let me get back to you,’ ‘I’ll need to sleep on it’ or ‘I’ll need to check my calendar’ or I just want to check with someone and then I can let you know.’
2. Do a gut check – once you’ve bought yourself some time – check in with yourself to determine how much you really want to do it. You can use a scale of 1 – 10 to measure how you feel. The closer to a 10 then consider saying yes – the closer to a 1 or 2 – consider saying no. If you’re still not sure, ask yourself, ‘If I knew this person wouldn’t be angry, disappointed or upset, would I say no?’
3. Tell the truth directly and kindly – giving someone a thoughtful and difficult 'no' doesn’t have to be hard. You can start by telling the person that this is a difficult conversation to have or uncomfortable thing for you to do. Here are some gold rules and examples you can try:
Be honest about how you feel - ‘I feel bad about letting you down, but I need to…’
Be direct about why you can’t fulfil their request ‘I’m sorry I can’t attend your party, but my budget won’t stretch to travelling right now.’ Or ‘In an effort to take care of myself more and spend more time at home, I need to decline.'
Be considerate and human in your response ‘I hate to disappoint you; how could we celebrate your big day in another way?’
Next time you have a situation where you want or need to say no - try out writing a script in your own words. Try out a few different scenarios above and practice them in your head or even ask a friend to role play with you. Many of my clients and I role play different scenarios they encounter so that the words can flow easily and kindly.
In order to take care of ourselves, saying no kindly and easily is an essential skill we all should practice.