Think before automatically saying ‘no’

Some people have the tendency to say “no” automatically—even before thinking about what was really asked of them. The asker can feel like their request isn’t even given a chance, or like they don’t matter. Of course, this isn’t good for the relationship.

To help with this, before responding, take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, and then take five seconds to exhale. During this long breath, ask yourself: “Do I really want to deny them what they ask?”

Rather than that automatic ‘no’, think: “How can I do that?” “What is the trade-off?” “Is a ‘no’ in the best interest of the relationship?” “Am I really too busy, tired, not in the mood?”

Sometimes, the mindset ought to be: “Don’t say ‘no’, think ‘how’?” Think about how you can do what is asked. Can you shift your schedule? Can you pull yourself out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to try another perspective or method?

Sometimes, ‘no’ is really the best answer. But, if you find yourself always responding with a ‘no’, reflect about why you do that. Are you too busy/overwhelmed to think about how it can be done? Are you afraid of failing? Are you concerned that you are being taken advantage of? Do you not care enough about the relationship?

The less ‘No’s we use the more effective they are when we do use them. The other person realizes that it is a real ‘no’, rather than ‘I can’t be bothered’.

Scroll to Top