Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Oh no!

This week I’m taking you to the flipside.

 That is, the flipside of last week’s post. Whilst many of us find it difficult to ask for what we want (as discussed last week), we can also find it equally, if not more challenging to say no.

 Too many of us are pleasers. We want to keep the other person happy in some way, even if we end up paying some kind of price for that. We go into “don’t be selfish” territory, where it is considered inappropriate to put our needs above those of others. This is linked to a reluctance to let others down or upset them in some way by “refusing” to agree to a request.

 Yet, if I say yes to something when I’d rather not be doing it – does that actually serve the relationship? I’m reminded of a phrase used by my buddy and associate Astrid French:

 “Saying yes, when you’d rather say no, devalues yes”.

 Have you found yourself compelled to say yes to someone and then felt resentful, even to the point of kicking yourself for having agreed? Might it have been neater to have said no in the first place? What will have stopped you doing so?

 Aaahh – the old chestnut: fear of rejection.

 In this case, fear that saying no will leave the other person feeling rejected. We don’t want to hurt feelings, so we say yes. We also often want to be liked or considered nice, reasonable people. So, if we do say no there is a risk that we, ourselves may be rejected. Add to all this a possible fear of the other person mitherng us to do it – putting on the pressure – and we have quite a cocktail of reasons to accede on our hands!

 So, what do we do in that case? 

 We need to say no assertively, yet in a way that has least risk of being taken personally. Going back to last week’s blog, I highlighted the difference between rejection and non–compliance. The trick here therefore is to specify that you are saying no to the request NOT to the person – non-compliance. One way of phrasing this could be:

“I have to say no to that (particular) request, the reason is…..What I can do (if it helps) is……”

 So, there are three elements here:

  1. I say no to the request rather than the person
  2.  I give a reason – by the way, it needs to be a reason not an excuse. People see through excuses and that’s what can lead to mithering.
  3. Propose what you can do instead – if appropriate and relevant. Negotiate if need be.

 Some years ago – when I was still driving – a good mate of mine who lives nearby left a message on my voicemail. He’d heard that I was due to attend a course  down in Devon that he also happened to be booked on. He was asking whether he could travel down with me. He also said he’d be happy to split petrol costs.

 I listened to the message and thought “Oh no, I don’t want to take him”. I’d  really been looking forward to going on my own, chilling out on the open road with just myself and a stack of favourite CD’s for company.

 But, what could I do? After all, it was a perfectly reasonable request from a good mate.

 My partner Ingrid came to the rescue in her own, straightforward way:

 I: “Tell him you don’t want to take him”

C: “WHAT? He’ll be devastated!”

I: “Probably not if you explain truthfully as to why”

 So, I took her advice and a hefty dose of courage and called him:

 “I’m really sorry Jack, I have to say no to your request. I was really looking forward to travelling down on my own and having time to myself. What I can do though, is give you a lift back after the course”

 What did he do?

 Slammed the phone down in a huff.

 Actually, not. He seemed to understand and took it very well.

 I’m convinced it was because my assertion fulfilled the three criteria above:

  • I refused the request – not the person – and made that clear
  • I gave the real reason  – not an excuse
  • I said what I could do – ie: bring him home.

 So, what if I’d said yes? I’d probably have been grumpy all the way down and resented the lost “me time” and opportunity to soak up my latest Barry Manilow and Julio Iglesias CD’s!

 And…. the two of us are still mates.

 “Saying yes, when you’d rather say no, devalues yes” –  wise words methinks.

 See you next week? Yes or no?           


2 Responses to “Oh no!”

  1. Hi Chris very interesting
    Its hard to do but probably best in the long run

  2. Hi Chris
    You got me – the man who always says “Yes” even when it should be “no”. People know it too and sometimes I feel wide open to being taken advantage of – and some do.
    Being able to say “no” with clarity and assuredness is a great asset.
    Thanks for your words, as ever.
    See you next week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: