Somehow in trying to keep a sense of balance in our lives, we’ve forgotten one of the most important words to use in our conversations. We’ve even been told that it is inappropriate in business brainstorming meetings to say this word out loud, let alone mutter it under our breath. Plus growing up, we heard it more than we cared to. This simple yet not often used word is... “no.”
To relearn using this word for balance, our attitude towards the word needs to shift. We often feel obligated to say ‘yes’ and that mindset needs to change to motivate us in to rephrase rephrasing our responses. Being able to say “no” respectfully tells the other person that you value other people’s time and priorities as well as your own. People often times expect to hear “no.” It may be as simple as to find phraseology that isn’t as direct. You can still be in good stead and be appreciated with some alternate phrases. When you use these alternative ways to say the word “No,” it minimizes any negative feeling the word might carry with it, like guilt or regret. Here are the top five ways to replace the direct saying of “No”:

1) Use your schedule (or other plans) phraseology response – “The soonest I can do that is either ‘x’ or ‘y’. Which will be best for you?”

2) Take extra time to answer the likely thought of, but unasked question, “Why?” Explain some options before you give say no – “Because of x and y, we can only do one or the other – which do you prefer?”

3) Say no with a “condition” attached - “IF anything changes, it may be possible for me to do what you are asking, and I will let you know right away.”

4) Start out with a softener like, “Thank you for asking, but that’s just not possible right now,” then move to your schedule phraseology.

5) Be agreeable. “Oh I know how important this is to you”, then move to the conditional phrase you want to use to tie it to the time that would be better for you.
Calmly and assertively, practice these response phrases and then keep repeating them until you see changes happening in your life. The word “no” actually has its place. When you get a request that competes with your own priorities and values, be brief, be assertive, be respectful – and say “no.”

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