The Introvert's Guide to Saying No
Introvert Problems

The Introvert’s Guide to Saying No

‘Being an introvert is challenging.  Striking a balance between being comfortable and not upsetting everyone you know can be pretty difficult…’

Our hatred of confrontation often means that we automatically agree to things that we don’t really want to do.  This is both in general life and on a professional level.  When you repeat this action often enough, you will find that there are people who become aware of it and take it into account. 

However, there are also those who will exploit it to the best of their ability.  On a personal level, I have no issue with saying no to my husband, but I still don’t like the thought of upsetting him.  To a lesser extent, I say no to family and friends but, with them, I’m far more likely to go along with the majority just so I don’t upset the apple cart. 

At work, I pretty much say yes to everything because I’ve never really felt confident enough to say no.  This practice literally gets me nowhere and, as a result, I’m usually the only person who ends up being upset.  If you’re struggling with the art of saying no, this is your guide to easing in gently…

Perceptions vs Reality
I tend to think that I’ll upset someone by refusing to do something that’s asked of me but, in reality, that’s just *my* perception.  The chances are that if I say no to something inconsequential, the asker of the favour will simply find someone else to hoist it on. 

That, in itself, would be enough to completely transform the situation and stop myself being dragged in to something that I really have no wish to do. Don’t always assume you’ll upset someone – not everyone is as worried about it as you are. 

From a Distance
You don’t have to say no face to face if you find it’s something that makes you incredibly uncomfortable.  If I feel strongly enough about something, I will raise the point via email or on the phone and do it this way.  This lets you put your foot down about things you don’t agree with, while not making yourself ill trying to work out how to say no. 

For extroverts, this isn’t an issue but, for me, this is something that will keep me awake at night.  The main thing is standing up for yourself – the vehicle you use to get this done is secondary.  The victory is just having the strength to say no – regardless of how this is done.

Hint: probably do it yourself though.  Don’t send, say, your friend, like you would’ve done in high school.  You might be introverted, but you’re still an adult.  (I would *love* to be able to send someone else to do this for me.  I really need an assistant).  

Peer Pressure
We’ve all been there and we’ve all lived to regret it to some extent. Unfortunately for me, I’m still in this phase.  If more than one person is with me at any time and they ask me to do something, I will automatically say yes.  The only thing worse than thinking I’ve upset one person is upsetting more than one person. 

This makes me easy prey at a team meeting, or with a group of friends and family.  For example,  members of my family decided to throw me a party for my 40th birthday.  This is my idea of actual Hell but, as they pointed out, everyone in my family knew when my birthday was and they knew I’d be at home in Scotland for it. 

Therefore, I’m had a party so as not to exclude anyone.  I therefore spent my 40th birthday doing the only thing I didn’t want to do on my 40th birthday.  I did make this point, but it hasn’t changed the situation and I felt stuck with it.  Amusingly, when I mentioned it to one of my best friends before the whole thing, her statement was ‘oh God, you’ll LOVE that! (employ your best sarcastic tone…)  How well she knows me.  

Consider Your Words
Not everyone needs a detailed description of *why* you don’t want to do something and, indeed, not everyone deserves one, but it can help you lessen the guilt of saying no. 

Because I’m introverted enough to really struggle with the refusals that other people make instantaneously, I often have to take time out before giving an answer.  This is often just to build up the courage to do so, but it can also help you keep your emotions in check when you feel you’re being railroaded.  

If At First You Don’t Succeed…
As the old saying goes: ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try a gin…’  OK, so the *actual* saying might be ‘try again’, but either works for me.  Saying no isn’t easy for introverts and if you fail on the first attempt, it can often stop you from having another go. 

It is difficult for us to refuse a request and, as it’s also not something that non-introverts can always comprehend, they tend to think we’re a bit dramatic.  We’re not – in fact we do things we don’t want to in the hope of *avoiding* drama.  What I’m saying is; don’t be put off if you don’t manage to pull it off on the first go round.

Practice Makes Perfect
Once you start to make small changes – whether it’s saying no to something via phone, email or text, and you make someone hear you – your confidence will grow. 

Also; your state of mind will improve and you’ll stop feeling so guilty.  Lots of things are difficult when you do them the first time, but once you’ve identified a way that works for you, you’ll start to realise that it’s not *quite* as impossible as you once thought.  

How do you deal with standing up for yourself?

Suz xx


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