We’ve all been in this situation. Somebody asks us to do him or her a favor and, though there are a gazillion other things we should do first, we find it difficult to turn the other person down because he or she has done us a favor in the past, or is a close friend or a family member.
The concept of gratitude prevails and we find ourselves trapped in something we really didn’t know why we committed to. We can sometimes be so worried at causing disappointment in other people, often at the expense of our own activities and interests.
Frankly, knowing how to say ‘no’ requires skill. Others might say that it shouldn’t be hard to do. But, let’s face it. We live as social beings and acceptance often occupies the number one spot in the list of virtues we want to achieve.
Despite this, there are actually ways we can circumvent this difficulty. Subliminal persuasion is one way. Here are 7 more friendly, pain-free and reasonable ways to say ‘no’.
1) Say ‘no’; then show what the other person has to do to get a ‘yes.’
For example: An employee is asking you for a raise but you hesitate to do so because lately he’s been skipping work and picking arguments with co-workers. Yet, he looks like he really needs it and has been working for your company for three years now.
You want to give him a raise, but his recent behavior is a little disappointing. How do you say ‘no’?
Tell him that you can’t approve a raise right now, but will do so once you see an improvement in his work ethic. You can say, “I understand your need for a salary increase, but in order for me to implement that, we’ll have to work on strengthening your work habits. Now, let’s see how we can make that happen…”
2) Make it impersonal.
Make it sound like saying ‘no’ was a matter of circumstance, not of choice. An example of this is: “We’ve just paid our mortgage and my daughter is going off to college in two weeks. That’s why I won’t be able to lend you money.”
3) Say ‘no’ in a way that will make the other person say ‘no’ to himself or herself.
Instead of saying ‘no’, teach the other person to say ‘yes’ to what you want. Do this subtly, of course.
For instance, your fashion conscious sister wants to get a pink iPod while you want a blue one. You can tell her that while pink is a cute color, it’s more difficult to match with her clothes. Once you level with her and link what you want with what interests her, she’ll give in and agree with you.
4) Say you want to say ‘yes’, but…
Like tip number two, make it sound like you had no choice but to turn the other person down. This way, the relationship remains intact and no one gets hurt.
Just don’t involve other people. Don’t blame your ‘no’ reply to somebody else, as this could result in conflict and ill feelings.
5) Say ‘no’ then redirect.
Another way to say ‘no’ nicely is to redirect the person to somebody who can also fulfill their request.
For example, if your grandmother wants you to take her to a nice dinner, you can always say ‘no’ then tell her that you can get your brother or your sister to accompany her instead. As long as she still gets what she wants in the end, you’re in the clear.
6) Say ‘no’ but give encouragement.
Here’s another scenario that might be familiar to those who have little brothers or sisters. Say your little brother wants you to help him do a project. If you really can’t help him out, say, “I’m afraid I can’t help you right now, but I know and I believe that you can do a real good job of it by yourself.”
Give people that encouragement they need to do things on their own.
7) Say it nicely.
You’re giving negative news, so you might as well do it nicely. Let the other person down easy to avoid misunderstandings. It’s the least you can for the disappointed. People tend to be more accepting of bad news if it’s brought in a polite and sympathetic manner.
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