‘Yes, probably not’: how to learn to refuse people

Real freedom is saying ‘no’ without giving a reason.”
Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

We start saying ‘no’ at three years when we are separated from our parents. And here the question arises how parents will react. Lessons learned in childhood affect our ability to say ‘no’ directly. It is easier for people whose parents refused in childhood to do so in adulthood. This is also more pronounced in adolescence: we learn to protest, to disagree with the authorities. In adulthood, such authorities are friends, management at work and so on.

We are afraid to refuse because we do not want to face negative emotions. First of all, it is a feeling of guilt, then the person is easiest to manipulate and most likely she will say ‘yes.’ You agree not to be a selfish person who values ​​yourself more than others in the eyes of others. After all, you want to be ‘a good boy or girl’ to be praised. But there is often no praise.

When we agree to additional workload or free work, we need to think about what we give up: friends and free time, leisure and favorite things. And at the same time, we say ‘yes.’ ‘No’ gives you the opportunity to protect yourself from this.

If it is difficult to refuse at once, give an answer later. Take the time to assess whether this will be burdensome. You will have the opportunity to formulate your ‘no’ and say it as confidently and reasonably as possible.

You should not apologize for refusing. On the one hand, this seems like a cultural response, and on the other hand, it shows guilt: if you apologize, then there are reasons for it. Therefore, it is important to speak confidently, even with a touch of categoricalness.

You need to develop the ability to refuse. It will appear when we first learn to deny ourselves: bad habits, laziness, communication with unpleasant people. Only then will we be able to say ‘no’ clearly and confidently to others.

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