Learning to say no is an important part of building confidence. You can be the most “confident” person alive when no one is around. But that’s only one part of confidence. The other is being able to stay true to yourself and how to say no with confidence when people ask you to do something you really don’t have time, energy, or interest for.
Saying no is part of boundary setting. You can learn to say no in big ways and in small ways. Saying no in social settings with confidence has 3 simple steps.
In most situations, saying no once is enough. Healthy people can hear no and not feel rejected or offended. But let’s say, your new coworkers are going out for happy hour and you really need to get home. You’ve told them you can’t go and they keep pushing you to come out with them.
Here’s where the 3 step system comes in. When you communicate a standard, a boundary, and people don’t accept your “no” you need to have a good response otherwise you’ll crumble under the peer pressure and go along with them. We don’t want that to keep happening!
It’s really hard to pressure someone who’s being super polite. Start off your no by thanking them for inviting you. It is nice for them to want to get to know you more, so if you acknowledge their effort and offer, they’re more likely to respect your no.
Say no as a definitive statement. This isn’t time to leave things open ended. Don’t make excuses or say things like, “maybe next time,” “I can’t go,” or “I’ll try to catch up with you guys later,”
Your no should be definitive and sound like this, “I’m not going.” This is the brilliance behind thanking them first. Here’s what we have so far, “Thank you for inviting me, I’m not going today.”
Give them something in the future to focus on. People are naturally drawn to think about what’s next rather than what’s happening now, given the chance. So end your no with something like, “let me know the next time you’re going out, I’d love to go sometime!”
Here’s the whole thing,
“Thank you for thinking of me, I’m not going today, but let me know the next time you go out, I’d love to go with sometime!”
How easy is that? And if this still doesn’t get them off your back, you know you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t respect boundaries. You don’t need to continue explaining yourself or giving reasons you’re not going. You can simply walk away or end the conversation.
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Rebekah Buege is a body confidence coach helping strong women process critical thoughts and heal insecurities.
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