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The Art of Saying No Respectfully

Divya Bichu
Requests for your time will come in all the time, and you are not alone, a lot of people fall prey to this kind of dilemma. However, to stay productive, minimize stress, and yet not hurt the feelings of the person who asked for help, let's learn the art of saying no respectfully.
You might have or might come across situations where you have been asked to take up a responsibility of one of your friends; however, you don't want to hurt him/her neither do you want to add up to your responsibility. So, now you are in a dilemma. How do you say no diplomatically? This is not it.
Let's take an office situation; your senior tells you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, but you know that you simply cannot do it as your plate is already overloaded. However, by turning it down you are scared that your equation with your senior might get affected. In such cases it is important for you to learn how to say no respectfully.
Sometimes, you get caught in a situation wherein you have to say no to your child. Well... it seems easy, but in reality it can be way difficult. You have to say no nicely, without being mean, because they are kids and might get upset if you behave rudely or unreasonably.
You have to understand what they are asking and give a concrete explanation for saying no, so that they too learn the value of saying no respectfully. There is no one who can actually escape the word "no", however it can be said without offending anybody, yet keep up good relationship with them. Explained here is the art of saying "NO" respectfully.

The Commandments of Saying No

Any art has a technique and techniques are made up of steps. So here are the 8 steps on how to say no respectfully:

Step 1: Thou should listen to the other person

When someone is making a request or asking a favor, whether right or wrong, they have a right to be heard. Listen to what the other person is saying. Do not interrupt them mid-sentence and adamantly say "NO".
Listening to the other person without interrupting is a key sign of respect. It also helps you understand the issue and point being made. They may have a point and you might be wrong and through listening, you realize your mistake.

Step 2: Thou should say "no" face to face

You want your "no" to come out respectfully and nicely, so show the other person some courtesy by saying it face-to-face. Sending emails or messages can seem very cowardly, or can come across as being highly rude. It may seem as if you are not really bothered, or did not think enough of the other person's request.

Step 3: Thou should be diplomatic

Adamantly saying "no", might hurt the feelings of the other person, and may leave you feeling guilty for the same. The point is to say no, yet diplomatically.
Listen to what is being asked, and tell them you will check your schedule and get back to them. May be after a while, you can respond, if you can't take the responsibility. The person might not feel hurt since you at least gave his/her request some consideration.

Step 4: Thou should not feel guilty

Guilt is a very complex but powerful emotion. It makes you feel all squirmy and small inside. So if you say no and you start to feel guilty, ask yourself why, and examine your own response.
For example, say your co-worker Bob asks you to baby-sit his kid but you have to take your own kids to the park. You want to turn Bob down but you feel guilty about it, since he's your friend and colleague. But you owe your kids as well.
Explain the situation to yourself and tell yourself "it's okay to say NO once in a while". If your guilty feelings continue to plague you, make it up to Bob in some other way.

Step 5: Thou should be firm and stand your ground

One minute you say no, the next with a little pressure, you say yes. Such changing tactics can lower your impression in others eyes, and you can come across as someone who can't make up his/her mind, or worse; a pushover. In a calm and firm tone, say no and mean it. And stick to your decision. 

Step 6: Thou should not lose your temper

Saying no to someone or turning down someone's request does not have to start a World War. You may be accused of taking sides, or being unfair, or whatever may be the case.
The accusation may or not be true but you should control your temper and be nice. Let the other person lose his/her temper, you must remain calm and show maturity. You should say no without being mean and ill-tempered.

Step 7: Thou should try to preempt and break it down gently

Trying to preempt requests is much easier than saying "no." If you know that requests are likely to be made, just make yourself clear amidst all that you are going to be busy with certain things and that there is no room for other responsibilities in any case.
By doing this; probably, the people around you will know, you are busy with other responsibilities and will not approach you with their requests.

Step 8: Thou should be honest with the other person

The essence of saying no respectfully, is to put in genuine efforts and be honest in your ways. Only then will you be able to find a win-win solution.
Honestly state your reason for not taking up the responsibility, and if you know some other person who could take up the responsibility, then without selling that person out, or adding to his/her responsibility, suggest them to take a look at it.
In the end, what really matters is you say no is a courteous way and honestly. Try to find a solution to their problem, if you really wish to help them in some way. And there is nothing wrong in saying no once in a while, so stop feeling guilty for having said no! Make up for them in some other way, if you really feel bad.