Refusal skills are communication strategies and pre-rehearsed scripts that help you say no without feeling guilt or shame, particularly when under social or peer pressure to conform or go along. Upping your ability to say “no” comfortably, no matter the situation, is a terrific Life Management Skill to have in your toolbox. Decades ago, when I stopped drinking, it took me a while to get comfortable saying no when offered alcohol in social situations. At the time, it seemed some hosts felt that it was their sworn duty to make sure every guest had a drink in their hand. I finally got tired of surreptitiously pouring out my drink in the nearest potted plant and practiced saying no in front of the mirror until it came naturally.

Below are 10 tactics to up your game:

#1 The simplest is the best: Just say no. Say “No, thank you” with confidence and a smile but pass firmly and unequivocally. Say no and then stop; don’t apologize or explain just move the conversation on.

#2 Suggest an alternative activity: Diversion! It can work wonders; it can reaffirm the relationship and that you want to spend time with them, just not that.

#3 Leave the situation: Be it the conversation, the room, or the location. It works because the minute you’re out, pressure decreases dramatically.

#4 Reversing the pressure automatically gives you more control i.e. “If you love me, you’ll do this.” Response: “If you love me, you won’t pressure me to.”

#5 Ignore the offer: Don’t reply or acknowledge, act as if it never happened; diplomatic (if passive) way of sending the message you’re not interested.

#7 Give an excuse: “I’ll pass. That doesn’t work for me; not my thing.”

#8 Invoke authority or responsibility to others: “I promised I wouldn’t” or “Wow. That could turn out pretty bad, pretty fast. No thanks.”

#9 Ask for help: “Hey guys, I need backup. I said ‘no,’ but he won’t stop.”

#10 Change the subject: Another form of diversion, a polite way of saying no.

Refuse to please others at the expense of your emotional well-being. Give yourself full permission to say no to anything that drains your energy or does move you forward to your goals. Given limited resources (time/energy) every yes is a no to something else; always stay aware of the choice you are making and take the time to make it explicit.

Closing Quotes:

“Part of the skill of saying no is to shut up afterword and not babble on, offering up material for an argument.” – Judith Martin

“No is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple no.” – Sharon E. Rainey

“Most of us have very weak and flaccid no muscles. We feel guilty for saying no. We get ostracized and challenged for saying no, so we forget it’s our choice. Your no muscle has to be built up to get to a place where you can say, I don’t care if that’s what you want. I don’t want that. No.” – Iyanla Vanzant

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier