What makes it so hard to say no?
The promise of a lavishly fabulous time. Pleading soulful eyes and long silences. Invest now for promised significant gains later! Buy it now because you’ll feel bad if you don’t. Limited supply. Act now! You’re missing out! Everyone has this! You’ll be a fool if you don’t. Come on, it’s only for a few hours! Exclusive.
There are endless writings and analyses humans produce to explain why uttering just one syllable can be almost impossible. You name it, we have an answer to why saying yes was more important than saying no. Let’s look at one.
There’s a script that runs continuously and quietly in our minds. “If you say no, you’ll lose out. If you say no, you’re a stodgy person. Say yes, and be a bigger, bolder person, the one that leads the pack, the brave one, and the life of the party!”
Think of the SUV commercials that amplify the voice with images of big, powerful, shiny vehicles forging your perfect family across pristine rugged roads to previously unattainable vistas. Or at least they would like you to think they were when you had your reliable old, but fully paid for, car.
A voice whispers at the same time, “If I think it will work, I can make it work. That’s the power of positive thinking.” There’s some truth in that.
The art is in understanding what’s actually happening instead of what you want to happen.
We think yes is positive, and no is negative. Who wants to be a negative? I don’t and bet you don’t either.
Here’s the reality check. Remember learning Newton’s third law in science class? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Yes and no are the same. They coexist. Can't have one without the other.
When you say yes to this, you’re automatically saying no to something else.
If you truly want to be boldly, confidently positive, use that wisdom nugget to your advantage the next time you feel compelled to say yes to avoid saying no. Your financial, physical, and emotional self will thank you later because you didn’t spend more money, energy, and stress than you had available on that enticing thing or opportunity.
Yes to the $9,000 offer means taking $9,000 from something else, either now or in the future. Yes to the day trip means no to whatever else you had planned, even it was an afternoon on the couch. Yes to the outing means you'll be up all night finishing that damn report.
I’m not judging you for your choices. I simply want you to be smart, intentional, and respect yourself by keeping the idea in mind.
Paradoxically, saying no can make you feel more powerful than saying yes.
Here are four more frequent reasons for why we say yes when our bigger self is prompting no. I’m calling them reasons, but they’re usually just rationalizations (and you know it).
When your interest is piqued, it provides just the excuse you need to avoid doing something else. Saying no equals having to deal with your procrastination later. That's ironic; the thing you were avoiding by saying yes still exists and is probably going to be harder to do because you put it off.
You think it’s impossible to say no because it’s easier than the battle you know is coming. They’ll wear you down, and you’re not up for it, so you might as well say yes because it’s quicker and less painful. Remember, though, that no means no means no, just like your parents said when you lobbied them incessantly as a kid. People who don’t or won’t take no for an answer are telling you they don’t think you’re capable of making a good decision on your own. If you know you mean no, say so. Then take a powerful moment of silence and watch them calculate what their next step is.
Don’t you hate the feeling of seeing someone's disappointment when you turn them down? Or maybe even worse, watching them seem to struggle with something you could help them do? You’re a ‘nice’ person and don’t want someone to suffer, right? However, before you step in, consider it might be more helpful for them to do the task themself. Ask yourself (and them) if your superhero assistance is needed, or even if you’re being played. The fence painted by others was proof that the work-escaping manipulative delegation tactic worked well for Tom Sawyer.
I’ve coached many a person in ways to decline gracefully. Why? Because they’re caring, conscientious people who were taught that a simple no is rude. It's a cultural 'norm' you might not subscribe to, now that you're grown up. Practicing no helps.
Here are eight options to say no, with a bit of advice: only the first four work to your advantage. Notice none of them offer a reason for declining. It’s your choice to explain your decision or not.
2. No, thanks.
3. Thank you for asking, but I can’t.
4. Maybe next time.
5. Absolutely not!
6. I would never do that!
7. Are you out of your mind?
8. Not a snowballs’ chance in hell.
Use them carefully, simply, and intentionally and protect your time, money, and peace of mind confidently.
Personally? Maybe, if I juggle this and change that—they won’t mind if I cancel because this is a better opportunity. Let’s talk.
On second thought, I already had plans for that time and money. Ask me another time. And thanks for asking.