Saying no is not as easy as is sounds isn’t it? The moment you say things like "Sorry, I am not interested," or "No, I don't think I want to join you," or "This is so stupid, I don't want lah," you might not realise that your words could actually hurt. If you are speaking to your parents or grandparents they might openly scold you for being inconsiderate and rude but if you are speaking to acquaintances, colleagues or outsiders who don't know you well enough, they may might take it pretty hard and react negatively.
Sometimes, we wish we could stamp our feet and say "no, no, no!" like a two-year-old but we know we are not as appealing or adorable as a pouty toddler. However, imagine how a child can be assertive and say an outright "no!" when they do not want something, while as adults we find it a struggle to say no or decline gracefully.
Well, sometimes you do have put a stop to something you dislike or just put your foot down on a bad decision, but saying no can be a delicate situation. At times, we find that we can’t just easily give a cold rejection but we have to walk the fine line between firmness and warm polite way of expressing ourselves. Well, here are 10 tips to say no, hopefully without hurting anyone’s ego.
Rejecting someone is never pleasant but saying "I am sorry" makes it a little easier. We apologise to demonstrate that we understand how they feel and we empathize with their inconvenience.
So you can’t join a group of friends for drinks because you have so much work in the office. Your boss is breathing down your neck, your clients are constantly emailing you and your friends kept texting you on your mobile to ask when you are coming. You have a looming deadline and you know you can’t make it.
Make sure that you acknowledge this as soon as possible and let them know; don’t keep them waiting thinking that you are going to make it. Be responsible. Assess the situation and call them immediately, “Hey, I am not going to make it man, my Lau Ban (boss) is on panic mode and we have an emergency situation. I am sorry for this. You guys go ahead without me. If I can make it, I will text you, if not the time next round is on me!” And make sure you keep your word. And try not to come up with the same lines too often!
Rejection Is Not Always The Answer
You have a dear friend but her parties are always boring and you have declined her invitation countless times.
So the next time she invite you, stop before you start saying “No, I can’t make it,” for the tenth time. How about actually attending it? Drop by her place slightly before or at the start of her party. When you arrive, immediately explain to her that you can only stay for a short while as you have another engagement to attend to.
Give her a present, compliment on how she looks, have one drink, a few bites, a bit of conversation and than say how you wish you could stay longer but you can’t and you have to go – all in about 30mins or less. You are not lying, you know you could stay longer if her parties were not so boring but rather than feeling miserable attending or being on her bad books again for saying no, you strike a win-win situation by making an effort.
You really want to say no to your best friend’s shopping invitation but don’t know what excuse to give?
Tell them the truth. But don’t insult them either! Be tactful and kind in your rejection and compromise. While the truth will set you free, the uncensored truth will set you back. Instead of “Aiya, you so ley chey (troublesome) one. I don’t want to go shopping with you because you cannot decide what you want and I always get tired of following your around, I think you should shop on your own.”
Try this instead, “Hey, you know how impatient I get with shopping, I will only get in your way. Anyway I have some stuff to do. Why don’t I meet you after and we can sit down for coffee and go through all your shopping? I am excited to see what you get.” Sound excited and encouraging.
It’s My Way Or The Highway Baby
Have you had one too many times been in involved in a situation where you have someone deciding things for you and no matter what is your input or opinion, they just go ahead with their decisions and refuse to listen to you. And as a result you grudgingly tag along.
No, you don’t want to have Char Kway Teow for dinner, you have a craving for KFC instead. No, you don’t want to watch the gruesome horror movie because you are in the mood for a light comedy instead. Just going along is not what you wanted but when you are face with constant opposition, sometimes you feel like you don’t have a choice.
It is actually untrue. You do have a choice. You can lead confidently by suggesting something different, “Hey, I have this insane craving for KFC tonight and they have a pretty good promotion, do you want to join?” If your friends aren’t accommodating, you can casually call it a night and move on because if they kept refusing or dismissing your suggestions, they can’t be true friends anyway. So end it amicably before you get so miserable.
So there is a guy that has been trying to ask you out but you are not interested. You don’t want to reject him hurtfully (though it seems so tempting) just in case it gets ugly. You don’t want to pretend to give him hope either.
You must hold a firm stand and tell him politely that you are seriously not interested. Make it clear that you are involved (if you are) or if not, explain that you can’t be in any relationship at the moment. You don’t have to explain further. If he persists, ensure you let your family and close friends are aware of the situation. If you do not want any misunderstandings, make it clear that you do not want their attention and would like to be given some space rather than making them feel hopeful of a possible relationship, all with a firm but polite ‘No’!
You have received so many applications, you have interviewed the short listed candidates and now it is time to write the congratulatory letter to the successful and rejection letters for the rest.
Before you print or email out those rejection letters, you should check the tone of voice to ensure that you don’t bruise their egos. Begin the letter with a nice greeting and acknowledgement of their positive qualities. Set an encouraging tone to make them feel they are not being rejected but rather they are among many suitable and fantastic candidates but your management could only pick one.
So there is someone close to you who is constantly borrowing money for you. To say no especially is someone close is a very delicate matter, especially if you are related. You don’t want to sour the relationship but you don’t want to encourage this tedious habit either.
You have to come with a sympathetic and pleasant approach to decline him or her. “I am quite short this month bro, I have road tax, my car needs servicing… I am so sorry I can’t help you." Don’t offer him with a maybe next time line either as that would be encouraging him. Just leave it as is. Tug at his heartstrings, while you sympathize with his situation, you have problems too.
Putting a stop to endless favours
Sometimes when you are skilled in something, for example in IT, friends and acquaintances might think that they are privileged to ask you for help. Not once but again and again. Suddenly, they are helpless to help themselves and they have an unending list of items for you to help them with.
“Eh, can you help with my printer settings?”
“Wah! You are so good with computers, can you help install this software for me?”
“Alamak! I don’t know how to sync my phone contacts to my laptop, can help?”
If you are not getting paid and it is getting too much (unless you are helping your grandmother), you can say no. Confidently direct them to the nearest source of help – such as the reliable help-desk service, helpful links on the internet, trustworthy IT shops and give them the encouragement that they are big boys and girls and capable of solving these problems on their own.
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Declining With A Sense Of Humour
Sometimes persistence can be annoying, even when you say no, they are just not getting it. Pesky cold calls, bothersome sales person or annoying acquaintances, we certainly would rather not raise our voices or create a scene; therefore we have to come up with a creative method of refusal. A sense of humour certainly helps. “Ah, Thanks but I am not buying today, I have used up all my money already! Hahaha…” to irritating cold calls.
“What? You say my skin too oily? I need your product ah? No lah, I love my skin, the oil from my skin is useful for my hair!” to those insensitive skincare sales associates.
There are many other fun things to say as well. Be creative!
Photo credit: http://www.123rf.com
Saying No As If To A Child
Think of the time when parents say no to a child, they will say “No, not this time ya? Let’s do it the next time,” with a gentle calming smile. And if the child looks upset and ready to burst into tears, they will add, “Now be a big girl (or boy), you can’t always have you want, there is always another time,” and proceed to distract them with something else.
The same principle can be applied to adults too. Sometimes, it is a matter of making them realize, sometimes in life, you have to take a no for an answer. Just breathe, take it like an adult and move on! Boh pian (no choice) lor!
Photo credit: http://blog.my.88db.com
Rejected someone more than once? It is time to pull out the stops.
Flowers, chocolates, dinner, take them out, make the effort. Make them feel special. But if you have tried and you have done your best but they are still unhappy to be rejected? Well there is only so much you can do. It will be best to leave them be until they have cool down. If you make the effort in the first place, at least they know you are earnest and you care and sometimes that is good enough.