Make Them Love It When You Say No


Welcome back from the glazed-this, candied-that holiday, and as promised, to indulge ourselves in yet more sweetness, woo-hoo!

Fortunately it's the kind of sweetness that won't mess with your blood sugar, but might just make your life, and the life of those you care about, just that much more sweet.

But first the hard reminder - of course there has to be one. To live authentically means we must at times say NO, NO to ourselves, and NO to others. No can feel kinda bad, both to deliver and to receive. So:

To sweeten your Nos, layer in a bit of Yes.

That's right, give them something positive to hold onto while they're digesting your No.

Not only will a Yes soften a No, it's also instructive. It communicates what you do want, and points the way toward more intimacy and continued aliveness between you.

What a "No, but Yes" Looks Like

You might want to decline an invitation to a movie from a friend whose company you actually enjoy. Instead of just declining and leaving it at that, a No that falls flat in a loud sort of way, say your No but follow it with a Yes, with perhaps a different time, or a different movie that will work for you. Or if you're not into movies, you may want to suggest something you do enjoy.

Three Must-Do Rules of "No, but Yes" Making

·       Know why you're saying No, and make your Yes align with that truth. It makes it much easier to know what you can comfortably say Yes to once you really understand why you're saying No.  For instance: You might say No to the movie invite because you don't really enjoy this person's company. Then the suggestions above would not be authentic Yeses because they disregard the reason for your No, that you don't really enjoy spending time with this person. In this case, an aligned response could be as simple as  "Thanks, can't do the movie, but I'll see you at next week's PTA" and would still register as a Yes.

·       Let your Yes be reasonable - don't feel you have to make up for your No with a Yes-Stretch. Some manage the awkward feeling of saying No not by embracing the feeling till it passes (a very sound strategy), but by channeling awkward feelings into overdoing on the Yes. For instance: "Sorry, I can't bake cookies for the next PTA meeting" (don't know why the PTA keeps coming up), but (and here comes the stretch) "why don't I have a fundraiser at my house next week. I just happen to know a celebrity Chef that can pull it off in five courses!" You get my point.

·       Let your Yes to them be a Yes to you as well. It's a win/win situation when you counter offer with a Yes-to-them that actually satisfies one of your own Yeses. For instance: perhaps the thought of seeing a movie is fun, but you've really wanted to try out a new activity - birding or bowling - or the PTA (sorry) - for example, but would really like to do it with a friend. Here's your chance to take care of two of your needs with one, well-considered Yes.

And remember, "No, but Yes"-making is actually fun when you get the hang of it because both people get to experience a bit of sweetness in the exchange. They get continued authentic engagement with you, and you get to stop doing the things you don't like in favor of the things you really do.

As always, I love hearing how you're coming along with your Yes/No-making, and encourage you to join me in the comment thread below. "Yes, but No"-making comes in all shapes and sizes; let us in on some of your most outrageous ones that actually worked. 

With you as always,