My cousin proudly announced today on social media that she “…said no to something”. Kudos to you Marcy, most of us know how difficult that can be.
Never having kids nor owning a house until recently, I never had to deny myself much, my money and time outside work was always my own. I never had to drive anyone to games or get lunches ready, never had to forego the mani/pedi for piano lessons. Basically I never felt I had a good enough reason to say no.
I don’t know how many things I did or got involved in because I couldn’t say no. Friendships with people I didn’t even like, dates with guys with whom I had no chemistry. Heck I even got involved with a new age religion because I didn’t have the heart to say no to a friend when asked to come along to meetings.
I was a Girl Guide leader for over 20 years. I first became involved as a way to give back to an organization I was part of as a child and to get involved in my local community as a volunteer. I enjoyed working with the girls, the activities and the many good friends I made along the way. A few years ago a survey was done to see if they could find out how they could recruit and keep adults in the organization. They asked me why I became a leader, the answer was easy. Then I was asked why I was still a leader, my first response was “guilt”. I stayed because there was no one else who would take over and I couldn’t say no. I knew then it was time to leave so I left my unit and joined provincial council because they asked. It still took me moving to another province before I cut the strings entirely.
There are many reasons we don’t say no. Most simply boil down to the fact we think we’ll hurt, offend or get talked into it anyway. Why is it a simple “No, thanks” won’t do? The requestor feels they must pry and cajole and coerce you into a yes. I once suggested to someone they should get involved with Girl Guides, I thought they’d be a good leader, she told me she didn’t do well with kids, it surprised me and I was going to protest but realized, true or not, it was her polite way of saying no and left it at that.
If I can offer a word of advice when saying no, please don’t use “I’m too busy”. That one used to get my blood boiling. Try “I wouldn’t be able to give the job the attention it requires” or “I wouldn’t be the right person for the job." or "I don’t work well with _________.”
Oh, and if you’re turning someone down for a date, be up front, make it clear there is no chance of it ever happening, he/she may be too dense to get the hint “I’m washing my hair that night” and keep trying for a night you’re free.
My suggestion as a first response would be a polite “No, but thanks for thinking of me.” And leave it at that. Unless pressed for a reason that should do. If pressed, have your arsenal of polite turn downs at the ready.