Learning different forms of ‘no’ makes for stress-free life

Lee Eliff Pound - Alumni Director

Lee Eliff Pound – Alumni Director

We all need to learn to say “No” just a little more often. For example, when Auriel “Cookie” Brown called to ask for an In Perspective piece, my gut response was to tell her I was swamped. But instead, I told her that of course I would help her out. Consequently, she has called me three times today to ask when she’d get the piece.

Too many times, we all feel compelled to say “Yes,” even if it’s not always in our best interest.

In today’s world, we’re all busy with big balancing acts – balancing careers, family, extra-curricular activities and community service. As students, throw classes, homework and clubs into the mix, who has time to eat or sleep?

Our fast-paced world with its ever-improving technology really doesn’t make it any easier for us to say no, either. It’s even more difficult today to escape the requests and say no when you can be contacted 24-7 by e-mail, cell phone and voice mail. With all of this, how will we ever be able to just say, “I’m sorry; I’d really like to help you out, but I’m swamped.”

Try to Google the phrase “learning to say no” and you’ll find an unbelievable number of Web sites. You can buy books that teach you the stages of saying no. You can take assertiveness training programs to learn to say no. There’s even a Web site that teaches you that saying no is actually “saying yes to yourself first.” I say baloney to that one.

Not only is there all of this advice out there on how to tell someone no, but there’s even a list of the types of “no’s” that are out there. Kate Ripp, founder of KTR Consulting, Inc., has listed the following ways to say no. She gives credit to Jennifer White, success coach and author:

The “Just No” means you’re supposed to “pass on the opportunity.” The advice is to say no and then just shut your mouth. (The hard part is keeping your mouth shut.)

The “Gracious No” means you appreciate being asked and is supposed to be a gentle way to reject the person. (I’ve tried this one and I don’t think it works.)

The “I’m-Sorry No” means the time is not convenient for you and could possibly make the other person apologize for asking you. (I’ve yet to receive an apology.)

The “It’s-Someone-Else’s-Decision No” means you’re actually blaming someone else. This technique is supposed to buy you some time to decide if you want to say yes or no. (I wouldn’t personally advise this one, as I think you’ll end up saying yes. By just saying yes first, you could have already completed the favor and moved on.)

The “My-Family-Is-The-Reason No” means you are supposed to use the excuse of a child’s game or event, or a family member’s birthday party. They advise you to tell the truth. (Or, you can use my family’s favorite – “My sister-in-law is coming to town.” The only problem is that you can’t be seen around town that day, unless she really is in town. I find this one a little restricting.)

The “I-Know-Someone-Else No” is supposed to give you the chance to recommend someone else for the task. (Somehow this one never works, either. Apparently my friends are on to me on this one and bounce it back my way.)

The “I’m-Already-Booked No” is supposed to make the person asking think you feel appreciated for being asked. They suggest to use this one, especially if you’ve taken some time for yourself for a little down time. (But, if you’re saying no, aren’t you probably already truly booked, and most probably not for yourself?)

All I can say is that after doing the research and reading information from Kate Ripp and Jennifer White, I’m still most likely to say “Yes.” It just takes too much time to remember what excuse I’m supposed to use for the right scenario.