I wanted to say ‘no’ to a friend this week to her invitation to a party. And as much as I’ve studied and practiced boundaries, saying “no” still hits a nerve. It’s a whole lot of uncomfortable.
But here’s another take on what’s happening when we want to say ‘no’ but can’t find the way to do it without seeming rude.
We’re the “bad guy” because we think we’ll hurt someone’s feelings or face an unfavorable consequence.
When I’m the “bad guy” I feel guilty – like I’ve wronged them. And usually when we feel like this we end up doing something inauthentic – like lying to them. Then, we actually become guilty of doing something “wrong” (only if you don’t want to lie).
Sometimes, the guilt of saying ‘no’ becomes so unbearable that we switch to a ‘yes’ and end up doing something that we didn’t want to do and then lie to ourselves and them.
But if you’ve decided to go with ‘no’, you won’t be rude by knowing your reasons for the ‘no’.
List them all out. For me, I didn’t want to go to my friend’s party and here, were my reasons:
The other guests are competitive, they’ll belittle me, parties are stressful, I’d rather do other things during the weekend, we don’t have very much in common.
Notice that the first three reasons make other people and the situation (=party) the “bad guy”. When we need to vilify others to justify our ‘no’ we actually may communicate it in a rude way.
But if you take out the first 3 reasons and look more closely at the other reasons, we could find out more about ourselves and a way to communicate our ‘no’ in a more authentic way (=not rude or impolite). Continue to ask ‘why’ for each reason.
For me weekends are a chance to relax and catch up on some things and my priorities are a bit different today. The other reason is we don’t have much in common. Now, it may seem like someone’s the bad guy here but sometimes groups outlive their purpose or are complete and it’s ok when this happens (=nothing has gone wrong). Nobody becomes the “bad guy” here.
So, now what? You’re not the “bad guy” for saying ‘no’ nor are the others or the situation. What becomes left are reasons that are true to you. And when you can see your reasons down your own path and not someone else’s, the way you communicate your ‘no’ will automatically come from a place of authenticity and honesty without the “rudeness”.
When I cleared up my reasons for not wanting to go to the party my communication became: Thank you for the invite. I won’t be going as I prefer not to go to big gatherings.
Whatever response you receive, know that you’ve come from a clean place and know that your reasons are true.