Saying NO to a Friend or Colleague

Most of us are pretty bad at this. How about you? Is saying NO when you really don’t want to do something really hard to do? So why do we have such trouble telling the truth and finding ways to “just say no”? Here’s the heart of it.

Someone asks you to do them a favor. Problem: if you say no you may lose a friend or work colleague—he/she will be mad, think you’re selfish, uncooperative, mean etc. and you’ll feel bad. SO you lie: you say “yes”. Result? Others get what they want and you end up feeling weak and really mad at yourself. “What a wuss I was” etc.

Good news! Here’s a better option than Just Say Yes (they win) or Just Say No (you could lose). How about you both win and each gets some of what you need? Plus you keep your self-respect because you learn to say what you really mean?

Learn to talk and explain- not to just say OK.

To a colleague at work who asks for help creating a report? “You know I’d love to help but do I have a problem! I’m way over my head right now working on a deadline, and I’m so stuck! But here’s what I can do…” Then go on to accept something you can help with and show where and how the rest of problem might get solved.  See how you both win?

He/she gets your help but within reason. By letting your colleague in on the truth, you’ve shown your problem and your willingness. You end up helping but only as much as you can – and want to.

With friends it’s often even harder to say no. But how about this?

“Wow, this is tough. You know I’d hate to turn you down – afraid it would hurt our friendship, that you’d get mad or something and I surely don’t want that. But those earrings (equipment, book, whatever) – that’s very difficult.” Then explain why—sentimental, one of a kind, gets broken easily…

“ So now — see why I can’t do that. But how about this?” Then offer an option—“I can surely lend, do, offer this.”

See- the secret to saying No is to take care of BOTH people’s needs by telling the truth. Telling the truth first about how you feel and what you can and can’t do, rather than just knuckling under and then feeling resentful. It puts you in a pro-active position but it also presents your reality.

Engage your friend or colleague in a mutually beneficial solution. It empowers both of you. You’re still a good, helpful friend and colleague. And you’re feeling good about it all. Just remember—the truth shall set you free…

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