Part of being an assertive communicator is to know how to set some boundaries for yourself, and hence learn how to say NO


Many times we do not want to say NO because we are afraid of disappointing others.  However, what we do not realize is that by saying YES, we are still saying NO to something/someone else.

If we agree to take on that extra request, we say NO to our own projects, to spending time with our significant other/kids/friends or to having that relaxing evening we have been longing for.

So how do we say NO, without damaging the relationship?

I like using the Positive NO formula, based on the book positive NO by William Ury

✅ Yes: Validate the other person’s request. Do not shame them for making it

❎ No: Reject the request in a polite but clear way (do not leave open doors, or say vague things such as: maybe)

✅ Yes: wish them luck or point out another solution

An example

Your neighbour has asked you to help organize the street party this year.  If you say yes, you will be committing to give away three hours every weekend for the next 3 months. So how to say no to this request using the yes-no-yes formula?

It will look like this

✔ A street party! That sounds fun!

✖ Unfortunately, due to the other commitments I currently have, I am unable to make the time this project will need

✔ Neighbour X mentioned last year that she was interested in helping (only use it if it’s the truth).

I am sure the party will be amazing and I look forward to attending.

As you can see it’s a simple formula to decline a request in a nice way while ensuring there are no open doors for the other person to keep pushing.

What are your thoughts on the formula? Do you think you can apply it?

Do you need more tips on How to be more Assertive? Check this article


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