Do you find it easy to say No? Naturally there are plenty of situations when that is the straightforward answer but we all know how hard it can be in certain circumstances. A close friend or relative is harder to say No to than a stranger. From refusing a second slice of cake to managing our time, learning to say No is one of the most vital skills we need. Here are my top tips
1. Never say Yes or No at once. It seems obvious but it can be very difficult to hold off a definitive answer, especially if the person you are talking to is close to you or offering something that sounds really exciting.
2. Remember what your first instinct was though. If someone proposes something and you have an instant reaction, don’t ignore or forget it. Our instincts are often right and, even if they turn out not to be, it is worth analysing why you felt as you did in that instant.
3. Do your pros and cons thoroughly. My own biggest mistake in this respect is failing to be realistic about time but there are many other reasons why robust interrogation might show that an offer is unsustainable.
4. Think about the person making the offer. Do you trust them? What is your relationship with them or are they new to you? Can you be confident that they are going to be or do all the things they promise or are they the sort of person who has enthusiasms which quickly wane? Will you be left holding the baby?
5. Be wary of a sales pitch. Parting with your time or expertise is just as significant as parting with hard cash and it can be easy to get swept away by the flattery of a pitch. Treat offers like someone selling you double glazing and you will be on the right track.
6. Try to ignore a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) when considering an offer; it can often bounce us into agreeing to things we probably don’t need in our lives. It’s rare that we genuinely get a once-in-a-lifetime offer and one would hope that, for the right thing, we would be given plenty of opportunity to consider our answer.
7. Think about your long-term goals. Is this offer a reasonable step along the road or a big diversion? Will it end up becoming a cul-de-sac or can it move you along faster?
8. Imagine the future. Do you find yourself thinking about how you could make a difference and achieve things in this proposed new situation or worrying about potential problems? They way your thoughts run is probably a good indication of how you should respond.
9. Talk it through. I know I say this a lot but nothing beats thrashing out the issues with a sympathetic and experienced friend. Pluralist Club members are great at these kinds of conversations and I know they appreciate the support they get from each other.
10. Having said all of that, there are times when we are offered things that are clearly and serendipitously the right thing at the right time. I believe we usually know when these offers are in front of us, though there are always a few missed opportunities along the road. Sometimes Yes is the obvious and correct answer.