Do you struggle with saying no? I do at times. I highly value my personal time, but I also don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by telling them no. What if I told you that you could still get the no that you need by saying yes?
In life, we tend to cater to other’s desires because we’re afraid of looking bad, hurting their feelings, etc. For this reason, it’s difficult for many people to say no to someone’s request. But what if we started off in a yes mindset first?
For instance, say someone invites you over for dinner this weekend. Instead of beating yourself up with the decision on whether to say yes (because you do want to see them, but that means less time to decompress from your week) or no (because your week has already been incredibly busy, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings), what if you say something along the lines of, “Yes, and let me see what weekend would work best for me to come over.”
Of course, this is a simple scenario, but did you catch that subtle difference in the answer? By simply starting off with the words “yes, and”, we have opened up the timeframe to make a decision.
Here are three reasons why saying “yes, and” is the best way to say no.
1. “Yes, and” allows us to keep control of our time.
When we feel in control of a situation, we’re often more open and willing to truly listen to the other person making a request of us. Conversely, if we feel out of control, we become more negative and unwilling to serve them well.
Imagine feeling overwhelmed with too many deadlines and projects when your manager steps over and asks you if you can take on another project.
Instead of saying, “No, I’m too overwhelmed and don’t think I can take on anything else,” you could take control and say, “Yes, and can we move that deadline for this other project out 3 more weeks so I can focus in on this new one?”
2. “Yes, and” creates open dialogue.
If all we ever do is say “no” or “yes, but”, we have completely cut off the chance for open, positive dialogue.
Think about the way you have felt when you asked for something, but the answer always started off with a “no” or a “yes, but”. It probably made you feel defeated or even argumentative.
Both the requester and the requestee benefit from open dialogue. A “yes, and” response benefits the requester because it immediately validates their request. A “yes, and” response benefits the requestee because they are now willing to consider all possibilities, instead of immediately replying with a “no”.
3. “Yes, and” opens the door for you to say “no” later.
When getting requests from your family, colleagues, and customers, you may not actually be able to say “yes” to their particular request. So, what should you do?
Saying “yes, and” (even when you should truly say no) allows all possibilities to be considered so that later on you can narrow down the details.
Over time, your family, friends, colleagues, and customers are more likely to come back to you because they didn’t feel shut off with a “no” at the very beginning.
So, try saying “yes, and” this next week and see where it leads you. I hope you find that your perspective on commitments will change for the better.