Monday
Mar122018

1. EI skills: How to say "no" nicely without guilt

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

It's important to be able to say no to some people!

Ever given into your feelings of guilt and said "yes" to something you later regretted?

There are many emotions that can interfere with our ability to assert ourselves and guilt is one of them.

Integrating our emotional intelligence skills with the way that we communicate can significantly improve our ability to stand up for ourselves.

Guilt can stop us from standing up for ourselves, unless it is managed in an emotionally intelligent way.

It can be guilt that holds us back from saying "no" when we need to decline an offer or request. We feel guilty that we will hurt someone's feelings, or that we are not nice enough ... and on it goes.

How many times have you been asked to agree to something, and said "Yes" when you really wanted to say "No"? Could this have been because you felt guilty saying "no", or you didn't want to hurt somebody else's feelings, or you felt anxious about it in some way?

These are all emotional aspects that are impacted by your levels of emotional intelligence. In order to stand up for yourself, to stay healthy and gain respect you need to be able to use the right emotional intelligence techniques to say "No, thank you" nicely even if you do feel guilty.

Emotional intelligence skills: How to say "No, thank you" nicely.

It's important that you understand guilt, if you want to be able to say "no" nicely.

Guilt may be present but it doesn't automatically mean that you must give into demands, especially when they're unreasonable or you are being pressured by someone who is trying to manipulate you. Manipulative people can be especially good at evoking guilt in other people.

By learning how to say "no" nicely and manage your guilt you can stipulate your boundaries and stick to them when you need to. Saying "no" is not about being rude, uncaring or aggressive.

The ability to say "no" is an essential emotional intelligence skill which can increase the choice of your behaviours, and encourage you not just to give in to guilt but to respond to it in an emotionally intelligent way.

In this way it can help you to look after yourself, to stop becoming overwhelmed by taking on too much, and to gain the respect of other people.

Of course, saying "no" nicely it not always the best way. Sometimes more aggressive communication may be needed, such as if you're under attack. I am not covering this scenario here.

Emotional intelligence skills 1: Be caring and respectful.

It is possible to start saying "No" by first saying, "Thank you".

For example, you might thank people for asking you, acknowledge the difficulty of their predicament, say how thoughtful they are for considering you, and so on. It might sound something like this: "Thanks ever so much for inviting me, that's really kind of you".

Emotional intelligence skills 2: Keep your voice pleasant.

Your voice tone as you speak is important. Even if you are saying "No, thank you" keep a pleasant, warm voice tone throughout.

It's easy to sound sarcastic, but this is more aggressive and can mean that the guilt is eating away at you. Sarcasm can also sour relationships.

Emotional intelligence skills 3: Don't let guilt dictate what you do.

Being emotionally intelligent does not mean that you always give in to your feelings. Far from it. If you feel guilty it does not automatically mean you shouldn't say "No". It could just mean, for example, that you've been brought up to be a "nice girl" and to put everyone's feelings ahead of your own.

Notice and acknowledge the guilt as your first step. Then decide whether it's warranted or not. If you are about to harm someone it is there for a good reason. If it's stopping you from taking care of yourself it may not be.

Emotional intelligence skills 4: Be able to say "No" without justification.

When you justify your answers people may pursue your reasons and wear you down on those rather than the "No". When you give reasons people usually keep on at you for longer.

For example, instead of saying "I'm sorry I can't, I'm busy" you might drop off the reasoning and say "Thank you, No, I won't be joining you" politely.

Sometimes reasons may be needed but you need to be able to have the choice as to when you give them and not just to give them automatically.

Emotional intelligence skills 5: Stick to what you say.

Stick to what you say and repeat it. If someone doesn't respect your "No" the first time, keep saying the same thing.

For example, if you say, "That's confidential", say the same thing, "That's confidential" the 2nd time, and "That's confidential" the 3rd time. This can be better than arguing points. Usually, in my experience, after about 3 times people stop attempting to persuade.

Don't let guilt wear you down if you are doing nothing wrong. Gain the emotional intelligence skills you need and you will be able to choose what you do. Gain the emotional intelligence skills you need and you will have more control over your own life. Learn to say "no" nicely.

Keep developing your emotional intelligence and give your self-confidence a boost. It's an emotionally intelligent thing to do!