breakup, broken heart

How to Say NO without hurting anyone?

12 March 2019


[ The Story ]
Tom and Betty are young couples who met each other since they were in college.

Tom is a responsible person, he works hard because he wishes to offer Betty a high quality of life in the future when they get married.

Betty is a shy woman, she listens to Tom and follows his opinions at the most of time, she rarely expresses her own thoughts.

From the beginning, they are a perfect couple in eyes of their friends, they never argue, as Tom makes decisions; Betty follows.

When their parents and friends are expecting they will tie the knot soon, unexpectedly, one day Betty told Tom she wants to end their romantic relationship.

Tom was so shocked to hear that! He couldn’t believe his ears…


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We spoke with Tom and Betty respectively, appeared to us there are mainly two reasons leading to their breakup.

Reason #1
Betty was afraid to express her opinions as she understood Tom worked hard to develop their best future, she felt guilty to disappoint him for saying no.
In the meanwhile, she had been suppressing her true feelings and emotions, she felt depressed and uncomfortable at the bottom of her heart.

Reason #2
Tom was not sensitively aware of Betty’s inner emotions although Betty gave him hints through non-verbal cues. He could not understand why Betty didn’t speak up earlier, he thought Betty was feeling happy and satisfied with their relationship.

As we see the picture, the young couple loved each other but also hurt each other due to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Avoid saying no does not equal to problem solved.


how to say no? better way to say no

A Better Way to Say No


✓ Reframe Your Perception
People usually feel that saying no represents a negative signal such as rejecting and refusing.

Some people are afraid of giving others an image of being rude; unkind; unhelpful when they say no, while some people hesitate to say no because they would like to avoid interpersonal conflicts.

The Art of Saying No is to do it at the right timing, on the right occasion, to the right person, in the right attitude.

✓ Explain the Reasons
Be well-prepared to give an answer and explanation.
Be bravely to express yourself. You don’t need to lie or make excuses. You shouldn’t.

Prepare in advance allows you enough time to organize and construct your ideas, your opinions, your point of view in a logical way so others can easy to understand.

✓ Say No in a positive attitude
Don’t be emotional. If you are feeling upset, calm down first, or choose a better time to talk.
Emotional expressions can easily create misunderstanding and conflicts.

Pay attention to your non-verbal communications, for example: your tone; gestures; eye contacts; facial expressions. Your sincerity will be sensed if your non-verbal cues and verbal messages match.

✓ Offer an Alternative
Yes, one of the easiest ways to turn down somebody is to offer other options and solutions.
Think of any alternative time; alternative candidates; alternative places; alternative methods; alternative approaches; alternative procedures; etc…

All roads lead to Rome!
Brainstorm and you will discover that choices and solutions are more than you imagined.

✓ Be Considerate and Respectful
Put yourself in other’s shoes. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Let people understand that you say no based on your focus of specific issue, rather than a disapproval of an individual person.
Cherish your relationships as a long-term commitment.

[ Remember ]
Avoid saying NO does not necessarily mean you are not hurting anyone!



Further Reading: Learning to say "no" | American Psychological Association


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Photo credits:
Broken heart hanging on wire Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Charles on Unsplash