You did it. You took a deep breath, collected your thoughts, considered your options and said the bravest two-letter word in the English language: No.
Maybe your particular flavor of no was, “No, I’d rather not volunteer at the bake sale ... again.”
Or perhaps it was, “No, I’m not willing to work unpaid overtime to finish the report by Sunday night.”
Or even, “No, I’m not willing to give you a second chance.”
In a perfect world, each and every one of these would be respected and cherished. In a perfect world, the person you’re talking to would respond with a hearty round of approval: “Thank you for your authenticity. What an act of self-care! I'll try to follow in your footsteps! Bravo!”
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Often, when we say no, the response from others is less-than-exemplary. Instead of praise, we get thinly-veiled threats, straight-up rudeness, increased prodding and pressure, a guilt-trip, or the silent treatment.
And often, in the face of potential rejection, we cave. That strong, sovereign No quickly melts into a puddle of, “Well, OK, just this once...”
The next time someone pushes back against your no and asks for your time, energy or resources yet agaaaain, try one of these three scripts. Each has a slightly different flavor and tone — and each is designed to shut down the 24/7 request hotline, for good.
SCRIPT 1: POUR ON THE SUGAR
Deep thanks for your follow-up note.
Just like there’s a saturation point for stirring sugar into water, there’s a saturation point for stirring responsibilities and commitments into my life.
Your request was a very tempting and sweet one. But right now, I’m saturated. And so, my answer is (still) no.
Thank you for understanding.
SCRIPT 2: MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
Hey — I just read your response. I can see how much this project means to you — your commitment and enthusiasm crackles off the screen!
If I had an army of clones, I would absolutely send a dozen of them to your side, and command them to do your bidding. But since there’s just one of me, I’ve got say no. (Again.)
Thank you for respecting my decision. It wasn’t an easy one to make.
PS. If you discover a reputable cloning service, please let me know.
SCRIPT 3: CLARIFY YOUR REASONS
Thanks for writing back.
It’s often said that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. Right now, saying “yes” to your request means saying “no” to sleep, exercise and quality time with my family.
And as much as I’d love to help, those are three things I just can’t afford to say no to. If I were in your lovely shoes, I’d want you to make the same choice.
So: thank you for saying yes to my no.
Whether you choose to use one of these scripts — or a brave statement of your own creation — remember that ultimately, your No needs no explanation.
And for more tips on saying no, read this.