- Don't automatically say 'yes': When someone asks you for your time, don't immidiately say 'yes' in response. Take some extra time to think and review your schedule. You should carefully analyze your priorities and give an honest answer about your availability. However, just be sure to follow up with your response.
- Be honest, direct and firm: Don't say 'yes' when you feel like 'no', and never say 'may be' just to put off saying 'no' until later. Statements like 'I already have plans for this weekend' make your position clear.
- Be brief: The longer you talk, the more you open yourself to giving in and accepting additional responsibility. Statements like 'I have to move now. Lets meet some other day' are handy in this regard.
- Use non-verbal language: Avoid sending signals of defensiveness or wavering in your body language, by looking down or bowing your head. Have a relaxed body and confident. However, avoid confrontational postures like finger-pointing.
- Add a positive spin to 'no': Instead of saying just 'no, I can't do it', add a positive statement to it. Statements like 'I am really interested in doing this project but I would like to help you once you have narrowed down your choices' add a positive spin to 'no'.
- Find a 'third right answer': Sometimes the best answer is neither 'yes' nor 'no'. Try to come up with some alternative suggestion that can save you from taking some extra unwanted responsibility.
Personally, I often find it difficult to turn-down a request made by friends, colleagues or relatives. However, there are people who believe in being ‘practical’ and don’t mind refusing someone’s request. Many emphasize that learning to say ‘no’ without being rude is one of the most challenging lessons in our life. And I must confess that I have not been able to ‘learn’ this important lesson yet! How about you?