“Why can’t I learn to say no?”

You look fed up – what’s happened?

Trevor and Judith – they’ve invited me to the party at their house. 

Isn’t that their family hand-bell ringing concert?  With the home-brewed Riesling?

Yes, that’s the one.

I’m surprised -I didn’t know that you enjoyed that sort of thing.

Funnily enough listening to Judith clang out “Once in Royal David’s City” isn’t really my sort of thing at all.  Or drinking Trevor’s Pea-pod Michelsberg.

So you’ve said “No” then?

I haven’t said anything to them at the moment.  I’m waiting until I feel strong enough to say “No”.  That’s what I did last year

I thought you went last year?

I did – when it got down to it I just couldn’t bear to say “No” so I crumbled and said “Yes”.

Well how is it going to be different this year?

Well the party’s on the day after Boxing Day so I can’t claim to be busy.

Don’t make up an excuse

What if I said I’d go and then rang up that evening and said I was ill or couldn’t make it?

That’s just rude. And what if you get caught out in your lie?  How will that work out?

Well I can’t just say “No” – it’d be really rude.

Not necessarily

Well it feels rude

Perhaps – or perhaps if you don’t say “No” very often it just feels awkward or uncomfortable.

It certainly does

More awkward and uncomfortable than the whole evening of the party?

Nowhere near.  So what exactly do I say?

Try using the “No” sandwich – something positive about the party, a reason for not going, and something else positive – perhaps that you hope they have a lovely time.

It still feels uncomfortable.

Well unless you accept that short term pain of saying “No” and being assertive then you’re stuck with the longer term pain of what happens when you say yes.

“Away in a Manger” and courgette Mosel? I see your point now.


If you found this conversation about being more assertive at Christmas useful why not sign up for my monthly newsletter here with three stories every month on the quirky side of psychology and relationships.