Thursday, 16 February 2012

Saying NO when you mean NO & accepting NO comfortably

Let this blog find you exercising life’s gift of free will.

We have come across some common dilemma:

-       How to say NO when I want to say NO without feeling awkward?
-       How to avoid feeling bad or rejected when someone says NO to me?

I found one logic that appealed to me & helped in resolving the above two questions in my life. You may find this useful for yourself!

When someone asks you to do something, it can be in two categories:
-       Instruction / Order, OR
-       Request
Practically all the interactions, among two people can be categorized in the above two categories.

Who can give you instruction/order? ONLY that person who you have expressly authorized to do so. So it can be your boss at office. When did you authorize him/her? When you accepted the appointment letter. That authorization is also limited to the job description. So you cannot be instructed to stand up on the table and dance. But you can be told to complete a particular task by a particular date.

As you start observing, you will realize that no one else has the authority to instruct you. Parents, elders, spouse… no one has been expressly authorized by you. You may out of respect or love, choose to treat their suggestions as orders.

So when someone asks you to do something, simply ask yourself or that person: Is it a request or an order? If it is an order and the person is authorized by you, you have 3 choices:
-       simply follow the order
-       revoke the authorization (by resigning!!!)
-       reason neutrally till the person changes the order or you agree to follow.
There is no other choice.

Now comes the interesting part. If it is not an order (which is the case most of the time), then it is a request. What is the design of a request? It means the person making the request is giving a true choice to you to say YES or NO.

So if the person is making a request, it should be absolutely okay for us to exercise our choice and express that choice.

You can experiment with the following strategy:

Whenever someone asks you to do something, that you feel odd about, ASK:
-       Is this a request or an order? (mostly it would be request, as when it is an order, you already know)

The person would be suddenly surprised. He/she will realize that it is indeed a request. Mostly the answer can be:
-       “It is a request but I really want you to say YES” (means: consider it an order!!)
-       “It is a request of course”

Now ask:
-       Since it is a request, it means you are giving me a choice to say YES or NO?
-       So if I choose to say NO if would be okay for you????
You may find the person more agreeable to accepting a NO from you without being upset.

NOW let us reverse roles. This time you are the person asking for something. Apply the same rule. When asking, check with yourself:
-     Is it a request that I am making or is it an order?
-     If it is a request (which would be most likely the case), then I am giving a choice to say YES or NO to the other person
-     This means if he/she chooses to say NO, it is absolutely okay. The NO is unconnected with my self-worth, my relationship with that person etc. So I can avoid feeling rejected. The person chose NO. He/she exercised the choice I offered & chose to reject the request. He/she did not reject me!!

I wish you all the best in being able to express yourself all the time.

Warm regards,

Rohan Singal 

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