“Dude, we’re going to go visit Aunt Mabel. You know she’s pretty old and won’t be around much longer. Want to join us?”
Now, maybe you don’t particularly care for Aunt Mabel. Maybe that prominent moustache that pricks you every time she kisses your cheek creeps you out. Or maybe the mediciney smell that permeates her home nauseates you.
Or maybe you have other plans. Things you’d rather do than visit Aunt Mabel. Like clean up your work room. Or pick nits off of your dog. Or just stare at the wall for a while.
There could be a whole host of reasons you don’t want to join the gang who are visiting her. And maybe none of those reasons are socially acceptable.
So how do you say “no” without coming off looking like you’re a knob?
There’s a website called “Art of Manliness”. (http://artofmanliness.com) And no, I haven’t bookmarked it. I got there from a Facebook link. I think. It seems likely that anyone who actually needs to go to a site with that name already has issues that no website could ever cure.
Anyway, they’ve tried to answer the “how to say ‘no'” question. (If you’re curious, the link is here. )
“Nice guys” they opine, “tend to say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything because they want to be liked.” (So far, so good. Yes, that’s probably true)
“In saying ‘yes’ they end up stretching themselves too thin, and can’t possible meet all of their obligations.” (Nodding)
“They need to stop and reassess, get some backbone and start saying ‘no’ sometimes.” (Emphatic nod)
“They need to say ‘no’ by giving non-personal non-threatening reasons for why they can’t fulfill others’ wishes” (ZZZZZZZP! What?)
NO!! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
“You know — like ‘I can’t babysit your dog because, um, it’s family night that night'”
(At this point I’m wondering who wrote this crap)
Here’s what I wrote in response:
“Whenever I sense that the next word I’m going to say after ‘no’ is ‘because’, I end up biting my tongue. ‘Because’ implies that I should have otherwise said ‘yes’. Like it’s a moral imperative.
It’s my right to say ‘no’ and it’s my right to keep my reasons to myself. And people will think what they want to think of me — that’s their right too. The ones I know and love will appreciate that I’m being honest.”
Going back to the hypothetical at the top of this post.
“You guys have a good time with Aunt Mabel. I’m not going.”
“Well, why aren’t you joining us?” (Intentional or perhaps unconscious application of guilt.)
“I don’t want to.” (Rejection of guilt. Absolutely NO excuses or reasons offered.)
Ultimately, instead of trying to answer the question “how do I say ‘no’ without looking like a knob” you have to say “I’m going to say ‘no’. I may look like a knob to someone but ultimately I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
There will be reactions to your “no” for sure. Ultimately, you care about those reactions or you don’t. People who know you will cut you some slack.
People who have preconceived notions of what everyone should do at all times will not. They will judge you as “inconsiderate” or even think of you as an asshole. That’s their choice. Sooner or later, that opinion will come out, and you’ll have gained some valuable advice on the quality of your friendship with them.
I can’t see it as anything other than a win-win.