Why is it so hard to say no?

Hope and Happiness

The word “no” is required many times and in many forms in life. You say it to others; others say it to you. I’ll give some examples.

You stop at a friend’s place for a coffee. He offers you a drink. You say no, because you won’t be there very long and you have a long drive after you leave. But you found it hard to say no, because it was a nice gesture and you would enjoy a drink, so you explain that you have to make the long drive when you leave. Then your friend says one won’t hurt you, and besides, you can stay a while longer. You end up accepting the drink, but feel uncomfortable. You thought you had made it clear, so why did he pressure you?

Another example: you are on a business trip, bump into an old boyfriend and decide to have dinner together. You have a great visit, but at the end of the meal he invites you to spend the night with him in his hotel room. He appears disappointed when you say no, so you remind him that you are in a committed relationship. As you debate the importance of the meeting with him and what it means to be in a committed relationship, you wonder why he is so persistent after you already said no. 

Hint: it’s not about the hormones.

A final example: after a great deal of reflection and marriage counseling, you decide to end your marriage. When you announce you are leaving, the first thing out of his mouth is “Why?” You tell him honestly you can’t live with his infidelity and alcohol abuse. He declares that he has already changed and he convinces you to give him another chance. You feel conned, but there you are, still with him. 

What went wrong?

The problem stems from the fact most people, including you and me, have been socialized to be nice to others and not hurt them. However, we all have to make decisions, and your decisions are yours alone to make. If your decision might not sit well with the other person and you don’t want to hurt or offend that person, you try to handle your internal conflict by explaining your decision. Explaining is natural and almost automatic.

In each of the examples above you said no and meant it. However, as soon as you even hinted at an explanation, the other party had you hooked. Your “no” had become “I’m willing to negotiate,” no matter what you intended.

No with an explanation is negotiation. 

No with nothing added means no. Every eight year old and every mother of an eight- year-old knows that!

It may sound counter-intuitive that “no” without an explanation is much stronger than “no” with an explanation. Perhaps that is part of why it is so hard to resist offering an explanation. 

Remind yourself of this truth: if you have made a personal decision that is yours to make, you do not owe anyone an explanation, especially an unwanted suitor or an about-to-be ex-spouse.

 

 

 

You can reach Registered Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill for an appointment at 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prince Philip is seen here talking to Alex Rennie about platters of food presented by the culinary deparment at Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University) in 1983. (Courtesy of Alex Rennie)
Parksville man recalls meeting Prince Philip at what was then Malaspina College

Alex Rennie, a former culinary instructor, got to shake hands with royal visitor

The Town of Qualicum Beach is set to hold a byelection on May 15. (PQB News file photo)
Restaurant owners Oura and Kymon Giakoumakis visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: COVID-19 pandemic hits food service industry hard

Podcast: Parksville Qualicum Beach restaurant owners share thoughts and advice

The St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society wants the old building included in the Town of Qualicum Beach’s Heritage Register. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach councillor offers to help pay St. Andrews Lodge society’s bills

Group wants building included in town’s heritage register

Ballenas Secondar School (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Another exposure reported at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary

Public health staff are completing contact tracing

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read