The official ranking of Difficult Things places “saying no” somewhere between “climbing a mountain” and “spotting a UFO in broad daylight.”

Since life mainly consists of those more challenging moments, it might be a good idea to learn how to deal with them effectively. Let’s take a look at how to say “no” in a way which will not make others hate you.

Check out: Say No Without Burning Bridges






  • counterpart  – a person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation
  • pushovers  – a person who is easy to overcome or influence
  • embarrassed  – a feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness
  • apologetic – expressing or showing regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure
  • disingenuous – not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does
  • tentative – not certain or fixed; provisional
  • demeanor – outward behaviour or bearing
  • distort  – pull or twist out of shape


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • Why do people sometimes try to “yes the no?”
  • What circumstances might make it difficult for people to accept no as an answer.
  • What is the neutral no?
  • What does it mean that people argue their no backwards?
  • What is the danger of not being realistic about saying no?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Many of us don’t like to say no to a ________ WORK or a boss—for instance, when the boss asks for a ________ TIGHT deadline, or a team member needs a longer one—because we’re worried about damaging the ________ RELATE. That’s because it often feels ________ SYNONYM with confrontation. And whether you are conflict-averse or conflict-ready, your ________ PART may not always handle hearing no the way you’d hoped.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

________ you think you know why your counterpart is pushing back, you can speak ________ his concern honestly: “You have a lot invested ________ what you’re asking, and ________ looks like I’m personally blocking you.” You can also give a good reason ________ your refusal: “I see my job as balancing valid, but competing, needs. That’s my focus.” If that creates an opening for an argument, it’s OK to have _________ discussion. Saying no shouldn’t ________  a monologue.


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