10 Unique Ways to Say No to People Who Won’t Take It

In Philippine contexts, saying ‘no’ can be difficult since Filipinos are used to helping others and being hospitable. People are commonly willing to extend their reach. Whether saying ‘no’ to bosses, colleagues or friends, it is a difficult and awkward thing for most people. It can be especially difficult when you need to refuse a request from pushy, demanding people.

Generally, people give in to saying yes, because they do not want to be rude. Simply because it’s in our nature as humans- we all want to be accepted and we like to help others.

However, saying no is not really a bad thing, depending on the situation, and especially in the corporate world, saying no may help you at work and in your career. For example, sometimes you may be asked to take on tasks at work that aren’t yours.

So how do you say ‘no’ to those who won’t take it as an answer?

1. The magic word trick

Often, people forget to use one word that would end the conversation- and it is just comprised of two letters: ‘No’

People often avoid using the basic word ‘no’ and instead they jump into explanations right away, trying to justify the rejection, “correcting” it for the person, among others.

Using the word itself would make the “requestor” feel that it should be understood simply because it’s a negation.

2. Use alternatives, apply empathy

Do you ever say “thanks” when you refuse an invite? Well, it’s a simple way of showing appreciation and empathy. An example of which is cliche but effective: “Thanks for considering me, but I currently have too much on my plate.” And it ends there.

Applying empathy allows the other party to feel that you appreciate the invite, but since you can’t really accommodate it, you still thank him/her for considering you.

3. Talk less, have bigger impact

Sometimes, an explanation worsens the situation especially if it’s illogical and too good to be true.

When people receive a firm “no” in the first place, they may not be able to force you. You try to practice. Say “no” and walk away. Body language is important here. Be confident, shoulders back, and say “no” clearly. Say it like you mean it. Practice saying “no” confidently and you will eventually be comfortable with it.

4. Use ‘because’ accordingly

In relation to the previous item, there are cases that do not require explanation. Explanations are always appreciated, but they are not always necessary. Before you explain, do not forget that you have your own life, time, and priorities- sometimes you don’t have to justify your reasons for saying “no”.

5. Think of the opportunity costs

Most people do not understand or cannot be critical about the opportunity costs. Yes, invites or requests are good, but what do you lose if you accept?

How much productivity do you lose when you say yes to one person? Is it that worthy? When pursuing that, what other things you would trade it for? Think again.

6. Refer someone

Referring someone may be one of your best options because you’re trying to help the “requestor”. Rather than just saying “no”, you are aiding the requestor in finding an alternative solution to their problem.

One practical, straightforward, and effective way to address this is saying: “I’m sorry, I cannot this time. Though, I am sure Ana does it well, too.”

For this case, you said no but you still tried to help the “requestor” by referring someone who can do as much for the work. Not bad, right?

7. Eye for a deal

You cannot really save a sinking boat alone. Invites and offers can be met halfway by parties. A good example is compromising or agreeing on certain points, so it pushes through and both parties share the “benefits.”

Striking a deal is not so bad because you are trying to say yes and veering away from your reservations.

8. Be polite. Always

As a Chinese proverb says, “do not do unto others what you want others do unto you.”

People often treat others depending on how they are treated. When you try to be polite, the person who has been trying to request for your time would tend to be more responsive and understanding.

9. Accept and move on

Reality check- no matter what you do, say, or act, some people would always have a say about it. When you already did your part, explained and said no, just accept and move on.

Some people take time to process rejections and that’s okay. What’s important is you are able to brace yourself and have handled the situation very well.

10. Speak up in case of discomfort

You always have a choice to say no. In times of discomfort, do not hesitate to speak up and tell the requestor. Nobody deserves to feel such discomfort for a request. Sometimes you may feel that nobody listens to you at work…there are many ways improve this issue, but first have the courage to speak up for yourself.

This would probably be a challenge to most since speaking up and being blunt in most cultures is not so common, especially in nations that have close family ties. Remember this: you control your own life. Your “no” is a form of self-love. Therefore, speaking up against discomfort is a must.

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