Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Nice Factor: The Art of Saying No

The symptoms of niceness:
- Every time you let someone off the hook
- Can't say NO
- Avoid conflict to keep the peace
- Feel guilty when you ask for something
- Get roped into something you don't wanna do

I have a confession to make...

I have the tendency to over-apologise. Especially of late.

Come to think of it, if an apology isn't genuine, psychologically you're saying you're ashamed of yourself. It's almost as if you're apologising for your very being.

So salah, right? *sighs*


I admit I've made some life-changing errors because I didn't wanna let others down.

The problem is that we, Malaysians, are brought up in a culture of pleasantries. The ethos of the saying that "it's nice to be important, but more important to be nice" is ingrained in all of us, don't ya think? There are many subtle cultural messages. We get it right from birth when we're told good children don't cry. Parents brainwash us about what makes a good child and what doesn't. What's wrong with crying? What's wrong with saying you need something, really?

The solutions?

1. Stand your ground
Backing off is wishy-washy. Standing your ground gives weight to your intention. This means both physically and verbally.

2. Tell the truth
Let the other person know what you're feeling. Let them know you aren't comfortable with what they are doing.

3. Agree when it's unexpected
If someone tells you you're being silly, agree. They have no place to go after that. "You're a bit touchy." "You're right, I am." It takes the wind out of their sails.

4. Don't point fingers
If you intend to tell someone you don't like their behaviour, start sentences with how you feel, not what's wrong with them. Pointing an accusatory finger will only make them more defensive.

5. Keep things short and sweet
Gabbling won't help, it just gives the other person rope to hang you with.

6. Don't engage
Never apologise or explain. Don't supply fuel for someone to use against you.

7. Get your 'no' in quickly
Set your marker right at the beginning of the discussion. You can always change your mind later, but if you say it fast, it's out on the table and can't be ignored.

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