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One Question to Make Saying No Easier Than Ever

One Question to Make Saying No Easier Than Ever

When you ask someone for help, it’s tough to hear “No.” Those two little letters can hurt our ego. We start to wonder whether the other person cares about us, and we feel embarrassed for making ourselves vulnerable by asking for help. Because we know how much “No” can hurt, we can fall into the trap of saying “Yes” to someone just to avoid hurting their feelings.

For example, let’s suppose you are having a busy day at the office. There’s a knock on your door; it’s a colleague who needs someone to help them finish an urgent report that’s due by the end of the afternoon. They ask, “Would you help me?” You don’t really have time – you have a lot of your own work to get done – but because you know what it’s like to need help yet not receive it, you tell them that yes, of course you’ll lend them a hand.

Why is it so hard to say “no”?

Even the most independent among us have a natural desire for acceptance. It all stems back to our survival instincts. Early in our evolutionary history, it was important that everyone in a group had each others’ backs. Hence it was better for people to say “Yes, I’ll help you!” or “Yes, I’ll defend you!” This “Yes” habit helped both individual and group survival.

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We can live more independent lives these days, but this old instinct is still strong. In addition, we have a desire for social status and belonging. We form attachments to other people, and often want to say “Yes” to others in a bid to win their love and favor.[1]

And when you really manage to say no, the other person feels bad about it (and about you). This is not the result you really hope for.

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    One question that makes all the difference

    So what can you do in situations like this? You don’t want to say “no,” but you don’t want to trample on the other person’s feelings. Luckily, there’s a solution.

    Quite simply, when someone asks you for help, ask “How?”

    This is less confrontational than “no.” It does not threaten their ego, and it places the ball in their court. “How?” holds them accountable for their role in the transaction. It forces them to spell out precisely what they want and need. If they are not able to willing to step up and engage with you, it’s easier to say “No.”

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      Asking “how” instead of giving a straight “no” protects the other person’s ego, and respects their need for belonging, self-esteem, popularity, and love. It isn’t a rejection; rather, it will be interpreted as a question and an attempt to solicit feedback.

      When you ask “how,” you are encouraging the other person to take charge of the situation by specifying what they require. Even if they aren’t quite sure yet what it is that they need, asking them exactly how you can help will force them to think about the steps that need to be taken in order to complete a task. You will soon be able to tell whether they are in genuine need, or are just looking for someone else to complete their mundane tasks.

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      Value your time, turn people down

      If done in the right way, turning someone down can make others respect you. If you draw firm boundaries, the other person will realize that you are not someone they can push around. Instead, they will see you as someone who holds themselves in high regard.

      When you give an impression of confidence, others will pick up on that. In a business setting, marking yourself out as someone who is willing to say “no” to arrogant individuals may increase demand for your services.

      The next time someone asks you for help and you don’t want to say “yes,” just ask “how” instead. It’s incredibly simple, yet very effective. It works with colleagues, friends, and relatives. Just think of all the time you’ll save when you stop saying “yes!” to everyone.

      Reference

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      Anna Chui

      Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Chief Editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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      Last Updated on July 3, 2020

      30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

      30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

      In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

      1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

      Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

      2. Focus on your breath

      Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

      3. Get organized and purge old items

      A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

      4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

      Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

      5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

      Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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      6. Smile more

      Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

      7. Don’t worry about the future

      As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

      8. Eat real food

      The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

      9. Choose being happy over being right

      Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

      10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

      Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

      11. Make use of filtering features on social media

      You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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      12. Get comfortable with silence

      When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

      13. Listen to understand, not to respond

      So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

      14. Put your troubles in a bubble

      Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

      15. Speak more slowly

      Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

      16. Don’t procrastinate

      Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

      17. Buy a coloring book

      Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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      18. Prioritize yourself

      You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

      19. Forgive others

      Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

      20. Check your expectations

      Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

      21. Engage in active play

      Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

      22. Stop criticizing yourself

      The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

      23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

      Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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      24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

      Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

      25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

      Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

      26. Manage your money

      Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

      27. Stop trying to control everything

      Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

      28. Practice affirmations

      Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

      29. Get up before sunrise

      Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

      30. Be yourself

      Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

      Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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