Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Why is saying "no" just as important as saying "yes"? You are the most important person in your life and deserve to put your own feelings and needs at the center of your life. You are worth it! This can feel quite challenging, especially when your needs conflict with those of someone you care deeply about. While prioritising your own needs over those of someone else might sound selfish, it can be a profound act of self-care and highlights the importance of saying no.
You can't take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself. Setting healthy boundaries will help you have the psychical and emotional reserve to continue to care for others, without losing yourself in the process. Saying no is a sign of respect. Saying no when that's what you mean indicates respect for yourself and the other person. Because you're being hones and authentic - qualities that cultivate healthy relationships.
So how to say „no” and disagree more elegantly? Here are some ways how you can do it!
Tip #1: Remain polite, professional and likeable to others
If you are worried about hurting feelings or burning a bridge, there are ways to frame the "no" so you remain polite:
"Let me think about it."
"I am honored, but sorry, I can't,"
"No, thank you, but it sounds really lovely!"
"Thank you, but maybe another time."
"I don't think I'm the right person for that."
"I have something else, sorry."
"I can't today, how about (next date)?"
"I can't do it, but (name) might be interested."
Tip #2 - The art of having a calm mind
People who know how to disagree skillfully know a very simple secret. In order to disagree effectively, you have to keep your calm. You have to listen carefully to the speaker and understand that nothing said should be taken personally. The moment you assume that what is being said is a threat, the argument will start and everything is lost.
That is to say, if the person in front of you tells you that the most beautiful colour in the world is green, you don't have to have an argument just because you believe it is yellow. Therefore, a good idea would be to keep an open and relaxed mind. Don't take the other person's' arguments to an emotional level. Also, understand that, to disagree, you don't have to threaten or underestimate the opinion of the other person.
"Getting angry doesn't solve anything." – Grace Kelly
Tip #3 - Watch your tone in addition to your words
Often, when we are talking to someone and we choose to disagree with some fact, concept, or idea, our tone of voice changes and we raise our voice. At that very moment, our arguments will cease to matter because that threatening tone will give rise to a discussion and lead to a moment of tension. To avoid this, it's best to work on our emotional regulation. You have to understand, once again, that disagreeing with something shouldn't be seen as offensive. Let's watch our emotions and listen to our tone of voice.
Tip #4 - Use "I" statements
Studies have shown that "I-statements" reduce hostility and defensiveness and that "YOU-statements" can provoke anger. "YOU-statements" make your partner feel that you are pushing them. When people feel attacked, they naturally become defensive. It's hard-wired into our DNA. By pointing out what they've done wrong or how they've made you feel upset, sad or angry, you're either trying to make them feel as bad as you feel or you're trying to make them change.