3 Steps to Turn Someone Down (without being the bad guy)


I hear it from women all the time.

“I HATE saying no. I hate turning someone down. I’d rather not respond at all even though I hate it when people do that to me! What should I do?!”

Saying no can bring up a lot of internal fear, the main ones I’ve heard being:

  • I’m afraid they aren’t going to like me anymore
  • I’m afraid they’ll think I’m a bitch
  • I’m afraid that they won’t want to help me out in the future if I say no right now

And in relationships, it can show up as a rabbit hole trajectory that looks like:

I’m afraid they won’t love me anymore. OMG I’m not loveable. I suck. I am going to be alone forever. AHHHH (self-loathing ensues)

I’m afraid they’ll leave and find someone else, someone ‘better’. OMG I’m not loveable. I suck. I am going to be alone forever. AHHHH (self-loathing ensues)

I’m afraid that they’ll get pissed off and tell everyone else that I’m selfish/weird/mean. OMG I’m not loveable. I suck. I am going to be alone forever. AHHHH (self-loathing ensues)

But the truth is that if you want to have a relationship with others that is healthy, energizing and dare I say it, TURNED ON for both parties, saying YES and NO when it honors you is an act of self-love. TWEET THAT!

Otherwise you end up playing defense in your relationships, giving your power away to a crappy thought or a future fear that isn’t even true!

It’s not even about turning SOMEONE down (although that’s how our emotional brains register it, so that’s why I titled this post like that!)

It’s about turning IT down (a request, an opportunity, an invitation, a date etc). NOT a person.

It doesn’t have to be personal. Feel the difference

3 Key Steps To Effectively Turning Down A Request:

NOTE: Before you do this, I am assuming that you’re clear that you definitely WANT to say no but you feel bad about it or blocked around giving an answer. If you’re not sure what you want, get clear on that first!

Step 1: Do Your Prep-Work (This is for you, not to tell them.)

Before you even give an answer, write down any negative or weird feelings, fears and truths that get stirred up for you around saying no to this situation/request/etc. This will make sure that before you say anything, you are coming from a place of strength and groundedness within yourself. You’ll be less likely to get on the defensive if they push back because you’re anchored in what’s true for you. And that’s truly an act of self love.

Fill in the blanks as appropriate and go until you feel complete.

I feel ____________ in my body around this.

I’m afraid that if I say no to this, _______________________

I already know that…..

Example: “I feel a weird knot in my stomach and I’m worried that they are going to hate me because we are friends and I already know that I’m just really overwhelmed by my own shit right now and don’t have any space in my head or in my calendar to help them with this right now.” So clear, right? The truth really does set you free!

Step 2: Add Value Before Opening Your Mouth

You’re clear on what your Truth is and now if you want to set yourself apart from 90% of the population and be a rock-star communicator, see if you can provide an alternative solution or resource to what they are asking from you. This is something you can prepare for before you get on the phone or see them. **Only do this if you truly can offer a resource or if it’s appropriate. Only you know!

Example: If you’re asked to baby-sit your friend’s kid and you don’t want to do it, offer up a website of reputable sitters or offer to help her write the ad for one.

Step 3: Be Ridiculously Transparent!

Okay, now you’ve done your prep work, you may even have an alternative solution or resource that can help them without you having to do it. Now it’s time to actually have the conversation, write the email and do the uncomfortable…TURN IT DOWN/say NO.

The last step is to START your conversation with an opening of total transparency about how uncomfortable it is to do this AND how much you value them/something about them (it must be true!)

Example: “Robert, I was totally flattered that you asked me to help you with X ______ . That really means a lot to me and I value our friendship that you would think of me for this. I know you value transparency too, so I want to say how uncomfortable I feel having to turn this down.
It catches the person off guard and is super refreshing and clear. It also makes it more likely for them to actually hear what you’re saying after that and not take it personally.

NOTE: For an exact 4-step script of how to have an uncomfortable conversation, read this blog post.

Then you add in the resource if you have one and you’re done!

Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

With a little patience and a lot of practice, you’ll be on your way to feeling powerful AND generous saying no…. even when you’re scared or want to hide and avoid responding. You’ve got this Goddess!

Q: What has helped YOU find the confidence to say no even when you were afraid? Share your insights with us in the comments below!

ps: Are you ready to blow 2015 out of the water? Sign up here for free updates to help you live free and feel confident about yourself and your relationships!

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