One of the more challenging communication techniques that many people find difficult is the ability to say 'NO' and mean it. It is particularly difficult when dealing with people who just wont take no for an answer!
No matter what your role or function is in the workplace, whether that is in leadership, dealing with colleagues or clients 'NO' can be one of the most powerful words we use. Even in your personal relationships, it helps to strengthen and establish healthy boundaries, as well as teach people how to use assertive communication.
If you have ever struggled to say no, this simple 3-step formula might be helpful to you. It is easy to remember and it is called a 3 Part No Statement.
The basis of it is
1. 'NO' Statement up front
2. Give a Reason
3. The Possible Options or Alternatives
The psychology behind this is quite simple. Many people procrastinate when they need to deliver bad news and may stall hoping to soften the blow. This has the reverse effect and can build up anticipation in the other party, as well as stir up unnecessary emotional reactions. Most people have a fear of confrontation or of saying something that they may get a negative reaction to and saying 'NO' to someone can present that possibility.
The basis of this method provides us with a clear 3 step process, a No statement, a reason and hope.
Lets explore how this works.
A No statement doesn't necessarily involve the word no but it is a firm statement at the front of our response.
Some examples could be:
"I am going to have to say 'No' on this occasion because we need to see more regular payments before we give you an extension."
"If you can make 2 more payments on time, then we will have more flexibility next time you may request an extension"
As you can see it contains a 'No' statement, a reason and then hope. This is just a simple example that you can relate to your own situation, whether that be professional or even in your personal relationships.
Other examples of 'No' statements may be:
"I am unable to do that this time"
"I'm going to say no and I will give my reasons why"
"I will have to turn down your request"
The Reason is important because human beings always want to know why.
Ever tried to tell a child "No", normally the next thing that follows is the word "Why?"
I believe this comes from a natural and healthy curiosity that humans have to understand the world we live in and how we operate and interact within it. If you tell a child to stop jumping on the furniture and they respond with "Why?", providing them with your reason will always work better than a throw away statement like "Because I told you so." or no explanation at all. When you give a reason it helps people to understand and digest why they have been told 'No.'
Using possible alternatives gives people something positive to finish your no statement with. Even if there isn't anything that positive or it may seem impossible right now, it is all about recognizing the need for people to perceive hope.
Practice some of the examples of 'No Statements next time you need to say no and see how it goes.
I hope you have found this article on assertiveness communication training helpful and I wish you all the best success for the next time you have to say 'No.'
David Patmore is recognized as a leading expert in Communication Skills Training and workplace performance. He currently consults and coaches with many of Australia's best known organizations, helping people to discover their confidence and hidden potential to become high level performers.
Co-host, Career Success Radio Show
A leading authority on career success; 15-year executive coaching veteran
Contact: Andy@CRGLeaders.com, 239-285-5575