Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

How to Say ‘No’ and Still Be Friends

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When someone asks you to do something, sometimes the answer is ‘No’. Of course, it’s how you say ‘No’ that matters.Office managers in a discussion over progress.

I’ve been in a couple of situations recently where I’ve been asked to do something I didn’t want to do.

One organisation sent me an email asking if I’d have a meeting with one of their consultants. They wanted to discuss how they could help me regarding my personal finances. As you’ll gather – they wanted to sell me something. And it was definitely not something I wanted to buy at that particular time.

If you’re like me, your first thought is to come up with some kind of excuse; probably a lie.

But I don’t really want to do that; why should I allow someone else to compel me to be a liar.

So I emailed back saying – ‘Thank you for your email, however this is not something I want to do. Best regards …..’

I received a very nice email by return letting me know that if I ever changed my mind, they would be happy to speak with me.

Another person asked me face to face if I would attend a presentation he was giving in a hotel at the weekend. I asked him what reason I would have for doing that. The answer was a bit ambiguous and I realized that he just wanted to sell me something.

Again it’s easy to make excuses; tell lies. But I said – ‘Thank you for your invitation. It is not in my interest to do that. I wish you well with your presentation.’

Of course a salesperson will come back at you with – ‘Why do you say that’ type of questions. But you just need to stick to your original words and not get drawn into a conversation.

I sometimes answer with something like – ‘I’m unable to do that for personal reasons.’ It’s a brave salesperson that would ask what those personal reasons are.

It can be difficult to say ‘no’ sometimes. Most of us have a natural impulse to please other people.

If people make requests of you that you’re not happy with or have doubts about, you could say something like:

  • ‘Let me think about this’
  • ‘I need some time to think about this’
  • ‘Can I contact you later on this?’

Of course you do have to contact them later, and without making excuses, turn down their request.

When you say ‘no’ to someone, avoid giving too many reasons and getting sidetracked. The other person may ask why you’re saying ‘no’ or try to persuade you. However, you do not have to give some long explanation. If you do, you risk being involved in a lengthy conversation while they continue to try and persuade you.

You could say something like:

  • ‘No, I don’t want to do that’
  • ‘No, I’d prefer not to do that’
  • ‘I can understand your situation, however I don’t want to do that’

There is no need to be unpleasant; you’re merely stating what you want in an assertive way.

Remember – it’s not the other person you are rejecting; it’s what they want you to do.

Let me know what you think, and please don’t say – ‘No!’

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Posted in: Difficult people, Motivation

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