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Saying Yes and…

Saying Yes and…

There have been times in my life when I did not want to say yes to someone, but I didn’t want to say no even more. So, I said yes and found a way out later. Can you relate to this?

I do not enjoy being on either side of this dialogue.

When I say yes knowing I don’t mean yes, there are many values or needs I am not meeting. To name a few: Connection, Honesty, Predictability and Trust.

At the same time, by saying yes when I really want to say no, I am also meeting (or at least trying to meet) specific needs. To name a few: Belonging, Connection, Ease and Safety.

Marshall Rosenberg the founder of Nonviolent Communication suggested that we mourn needs not met. Then recognize the needs we met by doing what we did.

Becoming aware of our needs met and not met by our actions offers us a new way to learn and choice in the future. Marshall suggested that we consider how we might meet both sets of our needs without such a high cost.

There are answers other than yes and no.   Maybe there is another option besides what the person is asking for.  If you don’t want to say yes, then here is an example you may want to consider:

  1. What needs do you think the person is trying to meet by their request?

Example: If they asked you to lunch, possibly they need: connection or support

  1. What needs would not be met if you said yes?

Example: Maybe you are watching your diet: ease and freedom

  1. What might be another idea that might meet your needs for ease and freedom as well as your friends needs for connection or support?

Example: Possibly you could suggest something a bit quicker such as coffee, and offer a 30 minute meet up, or a phone call when you both can sit for 20 minutes uninterrupted, or a short walk, etc.

Of course, it is important to check this out with your friend. You might say something like, “What is keeping me from saying yes to lunch is that I am not wanting to go to a restaurant because I am watching my diet. I would like to connect with you. I’m wondering if we could plan something other than lunch. What do you think about this?” Then listen.

As soon as we begin to consider our needs as well as the other person’s needs, a new field of possibility opens that is quite amazing.

Then, on the other side of the communication equation is when someone says no to you. It is very easy to shut down on many levels when this happens. Probably there are other options the person has not considered. Inquire what they are saying no to, then try to discover what they might say yes to. This becomes a collaborative effort. Finding the yes that you are both satisfied with might be a surprise to both of you, and possibly enhance both your situations.

When you hear no, it may seem that you are “dogging for your needs” to get the other person’s attention so they can consider another option. It’s worth your effort. We are not accustomed to collaborating in our culture.



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