Manners of Saying No

You're nice, but what if you need to say no?

Trent Armstrong,
October 13, 2008

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We talked recently about having a “yes face,” but what if you just need to say no? I recently received an email from a listener who was curious about just such a question.

Our listener says --

I have trouble saying no sometimes. I would prefer not to lend out books or other items, but I don't know how to refuse. This extends to ideas, too.  I enjoy cooking, and I invent many of my own recipes. I'm proud of them, and I like to share the dishes with friends.  But sometimes people ask me to share a recipe with them that I would rather keep to myself.

Am I just being stingy?  Or is there a polite way to tell someone no?

Taking the Exam

Thank you so much for listening to the show and writing in. I think the first thing you might look at would be your motives for not wanting to share things with your friends. I'm not saying that your motives are wrong or right, just that you might examine them.

Some people have been taken advantage of so often that trust is hard to come by and loaning something out is absolutely not an option. It could also be that you just put a high price on your stuff and aren't interested in seeing it leave your home. Either way, this is a self-searching exercise that might have a revealing answer -- maybe an answer that you don't like. You never know -- you might start thinking about things differently which isn't always a bad idea.

Stranger Danger

Another thing to look at is the level of friendship. A virtual stranger asking you for something is completely different from your brother or best friends asking. There is certainly a range that is within your comfort level.


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