How to say “no” without feeling guilty

Human beings are social animals. This implies having frequent relationships with other people, although it is true that this need is more intense in some cases (very social people) and less in others.

Despite the importance of this social element in a person’s life, it is a reality lack of structured learning of social skills in school settings. Thus, the chance that the child is placed in a given context and family will lead to more or less socially skillful role models from which he can learn.

If we have skillful examples from an early age, the probability of learn and reproduce these skills with our behaviors adulthood. The same will happen but in the opposite direction in the event that there are no such references.

    Social behavior styles

    Traditionally, we have spoken of four main blocks or styles of behavior in the social sphere. These are:

    1. Assertive or socially qualified style

    It consists of the ability to express opinions, feelings and desires without threatening or punishing others and without violating the rights of those people. This style promotes not only respect for one’s own rights but also the rights of others. Knowing how to say no correctly without feeling guiltyClaiming what we’ve paid for, or knowing how to handle someone else’s pressure are some examples of assertive behavior.

    2. Passive or inhibited style

    In this case, one would speak of a violation of one’s own rights by not being able to openly express opinions (especially when they are contrary to the rest), feelings, thoughts or by expressing them in a self-destructive way, with a lack of confidence. or even with apologies for fear of rejection or that others may ignore you or have a negative idea of ​​the person.

    It is important to note that this style it’s related to his own lack of self-respect because in many cases it is given up in order to achieve legitimate objectives by avoiding conflict at all costs.

      3. Aggressive style

      It is about standing up for personal rights and expressing thoughts, feelings and opinions in inappropriate and stressful ways, which it generally provokes the infringement of the rights of others.

      It is relevant to note that aggressive behaviors can be shown both directly with the person or group of people themselves, and indirectly, ie “misbehaving” by others. Likewise, aggression can be verbal and non-verbal through physical violence.

      4. Passive-aggressive style

      It consists of combination of passive and aggressive styling. Thus, in a first phase, the person adopts a passive role in which a pressure accumulates in a conscious or unconscious manner which ends up “coming out” through the aggressive style (“the drop that reverses the taste”).

      Why do we sometimes have a hard time saying “no”?

      It should be clarified that we generally oscillate between one style and another, that is to say that we are not passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive or assertive in one hundred percent of the situations, but we oscillate according to the context. and the person or people we interact with (he is more likely to be aggressive with our mother than with ours …).

      • For fear of rejection or consideration. Disapproval is one of the main causes of non-assertion.
      • For fear of disturbing or create a sticky situation.
      • Thinking that we are doing the wrong thing.
      • Feeling ashamed or guilty for opposing an opinion, a request, etc.
      • Sometimes thinking that not asserting yourself in this situation is the best option, which in many situations involves asserting yourself.

      How to say “no” without feeling guilty

      To know how to communicate in an assertive way your motivations, it is preferable to be guided by the following keys.

      1. Recognize the right to say no

      If we do not manage to take this first step, it will be very difficult to assert oneself or to assert oneself. To do this, we must accept that we humans have a number of basic rights, including being able to say no.

      2. Thinking that we are not selfish

      Just as the other person has the right to ask me something and not be selfish about it, I also have the right to say no correctly without feeling guilty.

      3. Accept the fact that not everyone can be loved

      Sometimes our behavior will appeal to others, but not to others. Accepting this fact as a natural thing will make us stronger in the social and personal sphere.

      4. Stay confident to express

      When expressing what you are thinking, do so calmly without turning around and in a respectful manner with the other person.

      In short, we are talking about an important skill that requires daily training. Like any workout, it’s about going slow. We can spend from least to most, that is to say be assertive in uncompromising situations in order to achieve the confidence and security that will allow us to move forward later towards goals that are more difficult for us. Can we start today?

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cavall, VE Manual for Social Skills Assessment and Training. 2005. 21st Century Editorial.

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