By: Rohan J Rana
“NO” is everyone’s first defense. It may not be fashionable or easy to say “NO” all the time – to everyone, but it’s sometimes necessary to do so because of the continual push and shove, and the ability to politely decline an offer to help us maintain our well-being from various threats. Having a kid who can say “NO” is something that parents want to teach since they live in a world full of threats, temptations, and cultural pressures. But, despite all of this, parents usually don’t like it when this negative statement is made to them. “We want our teen to be able to say “NO,” but not to us so often!”
The child grew up and thought that his or her parents could make or stop them from doing things. Parents, who are frustrated by their teenagers’ saying “NO” to them, should remember this: the teenager who is brave enough to say “NO” to the adults in the family (the parents) is often better at setting limits and saying “NO” to friends. S/He’s not weak with us, so we’re sure they can hold their own with their peers. Also, if the teenager’s “NO” makes you mad, it can help to remember that the teenager often feels the same way. As she or he tries to get more freedom to do things, she or he hears “NO” more and more from the parents when permission or help is asked for. When a teen or parent says “NO,” it’s time to discuss about it. A parent’s “NO” might be difficult to accept for a teenager who wants greater freedom to develop. A parent might assure: “We will be tough when we have to but flexible and explain our choice and always want to hear anything you have to say in a non-hurtful and polite manner.” Although often fiercely accused of being on an “Ego Trip” by an adolescent whose demand has been denied by a parental “NO,” parents typically deny it with the young person’s wellbeing in mind. Thus when expressing a crucial “NO,” parents need to explain themselves. For example, if you are stopping an adolescent from using psychoactive chemical, then “NO” should follow a conversation: Since alcohol and drugs alter your mood and thus your perception, reactivity, and judgment, you must maintain a sober focus to continue your bio-psycho-social wellbeing during this phase of your life; you must therefore refrain from using them because of the dangers they pose and the fact that they are addictive and kill many people each year; you are a teen and thus must therefore stay away from using them.
When a teenager makes a decision, we must aware that the decision may be taken based on fear, if they usually worry about missing out on something. Will saying “NO” mean I miss the best chance of my life? Will this friend stop working with me? Will the reference I need, go away? Am I going to lose my peer because of my “NO”? Will he get hurt, angry, or become resentful? And it has been witnessed by many parents that because of these fears and constant peer pressure, saying “NO” is difficult during the phase of adolescence and teenager. The real point of “The Art of Saying No” is to set limits and make decisions from a place of abundance, not fear. Our school system does not offer “The Art of Saying NO,” thus parents must cultivate this assertive communication skill in their children. In Assertive Communication Skill, it is being told that the meaning of assertiveness is to get sure that you don’t say ‘NO’ to yourself before saying ‘YES’ to someone else.
Let’s make a list of recent occasions in which we agreed to something even if we didn’t want to do it. Unless we can identify a specific circumstance, the actual reason for why we didn’t say “NO” may remain unfound – You’ll feel more comfortable saying “NO” if you know why you are saying “NO” to someone, and an inner serenity is targeted while exploring and investigating the reason of saying NO. Thus, we need to have a strong reason that convinces us first before speaking it to someone else. As soon as you realize why you don’t want to do something, magic occurs. You have a strong reason; something substantial that is worth being defended. Your values fuel you, a motivator. Now we are ready to deliver our “NO” –
- Make eye contact, put a smile on your face, and approach the target person with a polite voice
- Prepare a reasonable statement to back up your “NO”
- Do not change the statement in any way
- Keep to the same tone and volume of voice (for example, subtle changes may give the impression that you are becoming frustrated and therefore wavering)
- Do not deliver your “NO” statement in a tone that can be perceived to be aggressive or threatening. Your aim is not to upset or intimidate
- Repeat what the other person has said to show him or her that you have listened to them
- Try not to use the word ‘BUT’ as conjunction. Instead, leave a pause.
- Be prepared to repeat
We want to feel protected in partnership, in any connection. If we don’t feel psychologically safe, our structuring element is bound to develop the threat response. Training our assertive communication in SAYING NO requires continuous practice. Our threat reaction may take over if saying no might impact our future development chances or put our relationship or marriage in danger. When faced with the prospect of losing, our emotional minds may be more motivated to perform the opposite of what we want. The very act of being conscious creates a connection in our mind, which we may then work to develop and train ourselves. It’s possible to learn to say “NO” in constant practice. No shortcut here! (The author is a mental health professional at Nirmaan Rehabilitation Facility, Guwahati. He can be reached at 9435192261)