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The Key to Safely and Effectively Saying NO

saying noThe key to saying NO safely and effectively is to stay emotionally connected to the other party.

For many of us, saying no means some pretty scary things. If you say no, you might fear that:

1. You will be rejected or ridiculed.
2. You will lose friends.
3. You will lose status.
4. You will be seen as a selfish person.
5. You will hurt others in some way.
6. You will be seen as self-righteous.
7. You will be seen as a sinner.
8. On and on…and on!

All of these fears have a basis in one simple issue:

Disconnection from others.

Why does saying “no, I can’t (or won’t) do that” have to cause a disconnection? No means no. It does not mean, “I want nothing to do with you ever again.” Saying no does not mean, “I am better than you” or “I am above the law.”

It just means no. That’s it.

If you need to say no, why not take extra steps to stay connected to the other party? Why not say something like:

I’d really like to help. I’m just not available so I hope you understand and that we’ll still be friends.

I don’t agree that we should do that, but I hope you understand how important you are to me. I just need to sit this one out.

I would love to come to your party, but am not available. I hope you understand. I’d hate to think something like this would come between us.

Deliver the no, but be sure to connect with others as people when you do. Preserving the connection, or doing everything you can do preserve it, protects the relationship. And it addresses the primary fear that comes along with saying no – disconnection.

Even when you do all you can to maintain the connection….

Sometimes people will be put out or offended when you say no. If the relationship is important to you, then go ahead and continue reconnecting! Send a text the next day wishing them well. Give them a call. Keep connecting. This should win them over, if they can be won at all.

People sometimes need time to recover from getting a no answer. Give them that time and they will come around soon. In other words, fear of the initial reaction to your no answer does not need to be a reason to say yes when you really should say no.

Giving into fear and saying yes when you really need to say no is a common form of self-sabotage. In the end, the ramifications of saying yes are often far worse than dealing with the results of just saying no. Yet. we tend to deceive ourselves about this, another sign of sneaky self-sabotage.

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The Key to Safely and Effectively Saying NO

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). The Key to Safely and Effectively Saying NO. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 Sep 2015
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