Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Learning to say ‘no’ is good for your health

June 30, 2002


It is one of the easiest words to spell, but one of the hardest words for some people to say. It is the word "no."

One of the rules for being in healthy relationships and for having healthy interactions with people is to have boundaries and limits on what we can do. The person who sets boundaries and limits generally feels better about himself as a person and tends to have healthier relationships.

Spouses, friends, children, bosses, colleagues and community groups all weigh in with requests for our time or money or both. We would like to oblige, but we have to refuse demands that will impose too great a cost on our time and tranquility.

In order to say no in a pleasant and firm manner, it is necessary to be assertive. I think people sometimes confuse the world assertive with aggressive. Aggressiveness usually does imply that a person is stating his opinion in a rude manner. Being assertive is setting boundaries and limits on time, money and emotional energy, in a firm manner that does not have to offend anyone.

One of the most effective ways to decide if you want to say yes or no to a request is to give yourself time to make a decision. "Let me think about it," is a useful, effective technique. It gives you time to ponder the request and make the response that really suits you. It also prevents you from feeling rushed or pressured.

All of us have said yes or no to a request because we didn't give ourselves time to think it through. The result can be a great deal of frustration and anger. Often that anger can be at us for not being assertive.

People who can't say, "no," usually feel frustrated and used. Also there can be a great deal of stress for the person who can't say, "no," because they have set no limits on their time or energy.

People who can say, "no," when the occasion arises have more of a sense of what their limits are. They have set priorities in life and tend to be much more effective in the activities they undertake.

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