Body & Fitness

How to say no – without saying no

Everyone likes to think they’re helpful, but sometimes, saying yes can be pretty damn exhausting.
How to say no

How to say no

Everyone likes to think they’re helpful; a friendly ear to turn to in a time of need. But sadly, being an agony aunt to others can actually be pretty damn exhausting.

In a recent post on Mental Floss, writer Shaunacy Ferro highlighted the burden of being the “toxic handler” at work – i.e. the person everyone turns to with their problems.

Ferro explains that the key to climbing out of this role, and all the negative vibes that go with it, is learning to say no to people.

And there’s an art form to this.

To make your point known, choose your words carefully. “Can’t” should we replaced with “don’t”.

For example, “I can’t answer emails on a Saturday” is more definitive than “I don’t answer emails on Saturday” – and people are less likely to argue with you.

The observation comes from a 2012 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, which found that the way a statement was framed had an effect on how well people stuck to it.

For example, if you’re trying to diet, saying “I don’t eat X” made people more likely to stick to their goals than when they said “I can’t eat X.”

As Ferro explains, it comes to how much room you’ve given yourself in your statement to reverse course.

“Regardless of whether you’re talking to yourself or another person, ‘can’t’ suggests that you might want to do something, but aren’t able to,” she wrote.

“The implication is that in another set of circumstances, you could. With I don’t “there’s no room for debate. It’s a hard-and-fast rule that you set for yourself.”

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories