The Art of Saying, “No.”

“Welcome to your life.” It’s the first line of one of my favorite songs by Tears for Fears.

I’ve arrived to my life! And it’s starting to blossom in a way that I always knew that it could; that is, I’m living in my usual enthused manner while now being conscientious about how I spend the minutes of my day. Now comes the tricky part.

I have to change.

It’s okay. I have some experience with changing and I’m getting close to accepting the fact that change will always be happening.

Being a “Yes” man is so fun, especially when it is to a loved one, when traveling, or when following an expert, but since it is not-so-great for dedicated efforts I began to say, “No.”

The toughest questions came from my closest friends and family: Want to go to home depot? Want to watch a movie? Let’s make ceviche! Can you go to Sprouts? Could we go to Costco? Want to go to a concert next month? Can you help me with work? Want to eat? Let’s play tennis. Could you change the light bulb? Could you give me a ride? Are you going to make dinner? ? ? ? ? ? ? Here’s what happened:

1.  Just say, “No,” to any request or suggestion.
——–I ended up changing my mind a lot. Oh yeah, I need to think first. I forget to do that sometimes because it’s easier when things are all-or-nothing.

2.  Think first. If it’s really a no, say, “NO,” very firmly and stare at them so they could know how serious I am about it.
——–It got weird, very awkward, and I felt like a jerk shutting off further communication. I responded in this way because of my straight-forward characteristic. This is when I learned that there is a much better way to communicate a.k.a. exchange ideas.

Think. The reason I’m saying, “No,” is because I want to stay on task with my personal and professional goals and schedule. Think more. They have their own reasons for asking me of something. Now, thinking is part of the equation and it will be implied to always be the first thing to do. Another thing that is implied is that after their request I now ask more questions until their request is for something very specific. That way I could think about it with all the necessary information.

3.  “I wish I could do that,” or any of it’s variations
——–This turned out to work well! Whoop! And I like it even more because the truth of it. It implies that I decline and it addresses their need and my desire to help them.

I could stop there, but you know I won’t! I need and want more action and forward movement in caring about the relationship. I’m thinking about my close friends and family; these are people that I love!

4.  Go a step further and try to create a win-win scenario — My win in an interaction with a loved one is to spend quality time with them.
——–If they ask me to do something by myself: Decline, and then ask if we could do it together at a decided time in the future.
——–If they ask me to do something together: Decline, and then ask if we could plan to do it later or plan to do something else later, depending on the situation.

Declining an offer or invitation from someone I love is a simple art and one I’m glad to have learned sooner than later. Thanks for reading and I hope this post gave you some ideas or laughs. If you have an insight that I need to know, please comment it on this post. I’ll appreciate the perspective :).

Your coach,

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