►2. The fear of closing the door on future opportunities
You may think, “If I say ‘no,’ the other person will never ask me again. And I want the other person to ask in the future.”
For example, you may want your boss to ask you about taking on a more responsible position in the company, but at this particular time, you just can’t do what he is asking. So tell him you would like him to ask again. Give a short explanation as to why you’re refusing this time, and make it clear when you would say “Yes.”
►3. The fear of being seen as uncaring
You may think, “If I really care about the other person, I should agree to the request.
I know this fear ruled my life for a long time because I was raised to always “be nice,” no matter what. I never even thought it was possible to be “nice” and “caring” and still say “no” to some things people were asking me to do.
Then I learned that caring friends do things for each other — but not necessarily everything.
You can express your caring in lots of ways besides saying “Yes” to every request. You may be willing, for example, to spend hours comforting your friend, but you may not be willing to watch her dog or loan her $1000.
It’s like the cartoon I saw a while ago. A customer was complaining about the service and product he had received and was asking for some compensation. To show his utmost in caring, the customer service agent replied by saying, “We’ll refund your money, give you a free replacement, shoot the manager, and close the store. Would that be satisfactory?”
Obviously it’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. You may be willing to do a number of things for the customer to show that you care, but you don’t have to do everything he wants. If that were the case, you’d probably go out of business. The same principle applies to all your personal relationships.
►4. The fear of creating a scene
You may think “It’s easier to say ‘yes’ than deal with the other person’s reactions if I say ‘no’.”
Of course, it may be easier to say ‘no’ in the short run. But you’ve got to put things in perspective.
Ask yourself these questions. What ‘s the price you pay for saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’? How long will you feel uncomfortable if you say ‘no’? Five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour? A day? Compare that to how much time and energy you’ll spend granting the other person’s request.
And consider how long you’ll resent the fact you said “yes.” Sometimes you exchange a five-minute period of discomfort for a two-week commitment and a year of resentment. It’s not a good trade for you or anyone else.
►5. The fear that you don’t have the right to say “no”
There’s an awful lot of talk about “rights” these days, but there’s almost no talk about “responsibilities.” I see people in the streets, on the news, and in the social media demanding their “rights,” but I don’t see anyone in the streets saying “It’s my responsibility.” Quite honestly, I’m sick of it.
When it comes to saying “no,” you have both rights and responsibilities. You have the right to say “no” when someone asks you to do something that does not fit with your values. You have the right to say “no” when someone is asking for your time, money, or energy that you have prioritized to be spent somewhere else.
But you also have the responsibility of protecting your own boundaries. That’s not somebody else’s job. You must learn how to respond to unacceptable requests with a clear, firm, fair, and honest “no.” I’ll teach you more about that in next week’s Tuesday Tip.