Existential Psychology

Learn How To Say No

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If you have a hard time saying no your predilection is probably tied up with your need to be liked. Simply put, you’re consciously or unconsciously afraid that by saying no you’ll be disliked by the person making the request and this prospect seems unbearable. In other words, the unwanted outcome of not being like outweighs the unwanted outcome of having to waste your time and energy on some task.

Many of the people requesting your time and energy are well aware of this psychological vulnerability. It’s a cheap sales tactic. It shifts the focus from the rational dimensions of the request at hand to the emotional dimensions of the human relationship. This knowledge alone, that your emotional vulnerability is being actively exploited to compel some behavior out of you should be enough to make you throw up the symbolic middle finger and move on with your day.

But we want to get away from that line of thought because not everyone is trying to exploit you for their own gain. Some people see you as the best person for the task, a task they find important, and they’re just trying to facilitate your involvement. They’re only manipulating you in the sense that they’re trying to compel a behavior, but they see it as a good cause and maybe you do too, in which case maybe it should be game on. if you have the time and inclination.

So really what we need to bring the conversation back to if you have a hard time saying no is your own psychology, your own need to be liked and your own fear of being disliked. Here are some ideas that might help. If you believe a person will only like you when you fulfill their demands this is not the kind of person you want in your life anyway, not the kind of person you want anywhere near you. And most people will be more inclined to like you if you stand your ground, if you confidently live by your own values, than if you do whatever they ask of you. Popular people are leaders, not followers. Learning how to say no really comes down to deciding you care more about what you really want, about what you think is a good use of your time and skill set, than whether or not somebody likes you. And if they don’t like you so what? Is the world going to come to a screeching halt? Is the sun going to burn out? Will you suddenly be zapped into oblivion?