We’ve all had that sinking feeling of regret when we’ve said Yes to something and we really wanted to say No.
So why do we do that?
There’s usually one of two reasons why we have trouble saying No: 1) We fear we have to push other’s needs aside in order to get what WE want; or 2) We fear that choosing the needs of OTHERS or our relationship comes at the cost of what we really want.
But what if we didn’t have to choose between our needs and the needs of our relationships?
What if there was a third option?
William Ury discusses this third option in the book, “The Power of a Positive No.” In the book he talks about how our ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are always intertwined. They are never mutually exclusive. When you say No to something, you are always saying Yes to something else.
So saying NO is really about choosing what you are going to say YES to.
The trick to saying No with confidence and conviction means first saying YES to ourselves.
So how do we say YES to ourselves and NO to the ask? Well, Ury suggests that in order to YES to yourself with conviction and NO with confidence, it helps to ask yourself three things:
1. What are your needs, values, and priorities?
Your needs include physical necessities such as food, water, and shelter. And also include emotional and spiritual components that are essential to life such as love, dignity, and meaning. Your values are the things and characteristics that you judge as important in your life. Priorities are how those values are ranked in order of importance within a context or situation.
Understanding what your needs and values are, and how you prioritize them in your life, is essential to revealing to you what you want and what you don’t want.
Self-awareness brings clarity and purpose in life. So until you have an awareness of what you DO want and need, it’s very difficult to say no with confidence because you aren’t entirely sure if your No does or does not align with your values.
Determining your YES also involves three crucial components about your situation…
2. What will you create, protect, and/or change by saying No?
Our bodies and emotions are a great temperature gauge of how we are experiencing a particular experience. So when we feel a strong sense of No arising in our bodies, there’s often a reason.
The reason we want to say No is because we want to either create a new situation, protect a current situation, and or change an existing situation.
So it helps to ask yourself: am I creating a new reality by saying No? Is saying No in this situation protecting something that’s important to me? Am I changing an existing dynamic by standing up and saying No?
All of these questions will help clarify and uncover your current values and priorities.
Which then leads us to the next point…shedding light on WHY you are saying No.
3. What are the reasons you want to say Yes to yourself instead of No to the ask?
When we say No to something because we are in alignment with our values and priorities, we are saying YES to ourselves and what is important to us. We are placing the things that are important to us, first. However, in our culture, and especially for us women, this can be seen as ‘selfish’ or ‘self-centred.’
Saying a No with confidence is placing a boundary on what is and what is not okay for us.
It does not mean judging others. It’s about clarifying to ourselves our own values, and deciding on how we are going to live those values out in our lives.
Saying YES to ourselves isn’t self-centred; it’s self-aware. It means showing up as the best version of ourselves so that we can better support others.
For example, we might say No to a coffee with an acquaintance, even though we really like meeting new people, because we value spending more time with our family or loved ones. Or we might say No to volunteering at our kid’s school, even though we really value volunteerism, because we’ve been feeling very tired lately and we know we need to prioritize self-care.
Saying No with confidence and conviction involves taking personal responsibility for our needs. It means prioritizing and protecting the values that are important to us, and if necessary, creating new priorities along the way.
Saying No with confidence and conviction means you must choose what YOU are FOR by first saying YES to yourself.