Saying No with Style

For many of us, the hardest assertiveness skill is the ability to say "no" when the situation requires it. We may feel threatened by a loss of respect, love or responsibility on the job when we say "no" to someone. It is possible to say "no" with grace and tact, following these guidelines:

  • Be honest and direct.
  • Don't make excuses.
  • Remember that saying "no" shows self-respect.

When It's Especially Hard to Say "No"

Sometimes it's harder to say "no" to certain people. Check the people you have trouble saying "no" to. Then, in the space, describe a situation where you need to say "no" and write an assertive response:

Children

Spouse

A friend

A parent

A coworker

A neighbor

Your boss



Consider these situations:

You are invited to go to the opera. You have no plans for that evening but you can't stand opera. A coworker asks you to do his work for him. You're asked to do something you don't feel qualified to do.
Dishonest Response
"I'm afraid I have other plans that night." "I'd like to but I don't have the time." "Sure. Piece of cake."
Indirect Response
"Can I let you know tomorrow?" "Let me think about it and get back to you." "Why don't you ask Jane?"
Assertive Response
"Thank you for inviting me, but I really don't care for opera." "I'm sorry. I won't be able to do that for you." "I'm not experienced with that, but I'll give it my best shot."

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