How to Say "No" with Confidence

How to Say "No" with Confidence

I really admire the types of women who aren't afraid to stand up for them themselves. Who can say what they feel kindly but with out worrying what others might think. Who aren't afraid to go against the grain and say "no" when everyone else says "yes".

It's one of the hardest things to do because we all crave the approval of others. We want to be liked and we want to feel as though we belong. Growing up, my inability to stand up for myself and say "no" lead me to make some poor choices and if there is such a thing as a "people pleaser" that was me!

Caroline's ever present smile seen here after winning Junior Wimbledon

But a few years ago I had to find my courage and start saying "no" to things that simply didn't feel right to me. AND I got a lot of practice at it when I decided to stop drinking alcohol altogether. My friends tolerated it but...well...they...didn't really like it. They felt I was a bit boring and tried to convince me to join them on nights out.

Here are the four things that helped me to feel courageous and become comfortable with saying that tiny two letter word, "no".

1. Know your boundaries and be prepared

Know what you want for yourself in advance and be prepared with what you want to say. In the moment, when a friend asks if we want to do something our need to "be nice" kicks in and it often results in indecision and flailing around for words. Don't be afraid to say "can I get back to you, I need to check my diary" or alternatively, preparing a sentence in advance can really help. Just remember that you don't need to explain yourself or get them to agree with you. Even a simple and polite, "no thanks, I don't feel like it today" is enough!

2. It's all in the delivery

Like everything, practice makes perfect and the result can often rest in the delivery. If you are kind and you project a confident energy, there won't be much room for negotiation and people will stop trying to change your mind. In fact most people will eventually respect you even more for staying true to your priorities!

3. They might react and that's when you need to be strong

Part of saying "no" is being confident even if the other person gets disappointed. Some people won't like your choices and might get angry or try to pressure you to change. Be understanding and know that their reaction is actually to do with THEM and it will pass. They will get over it. However if it does continue, you might need to say something such as, "you know, your friendship is really important to me and I find it difficult that you pressure me into things that I don't want to do. Could you please try to be more supportive?" If they still persist, you may need to take action and this is something you can discuss with your parents, with us or with someone you feel really close to.

4. Accept your friends when they say no

I find it so important not to judge others for simply having a different preference to mine. If I am a vegetarian and someone else prefers to eat a burger, I really don't mind and I certainly don't feel better than them or try to convince them to have something else. Just like you can say "no" to something that doesn't feel right for you, try to give your friends and family the space to do the same! When they see how accepting you are of them they will want to offer you the same respect.

A friend once gave me a really valuable piece of advice. He said, "Don't ever apologise for being you." There are 7.5 billion people on this planet and we aren't always going to think, do or want the same thing! How beautiful! Following your heart and doing what you feel is best for you is the kindest thing you can do for yourself as it comes from a place of self-respect and love.

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