How to Say No Effectively

Acquire powerful, easy-to-apply tools to help you say no effectively whilst maintaining relationship rapport.

So how do you say no? You get your own house in order. You see where you're going along with the crowd:, where you're giving into external demands of shoulds, oughts and musts, and you're increasing your awareness on a daily basis to see your part in creating your life.

It depends on the circumstance, but say you're at work and someone says, “Hey, you could just help me out with this job, could you?” If you've got a good relationship with them, you can say, “I'm really sorry. I'm really not up to it at the moment, I’m not going to be able to help you. Going to have to say no.” That would be perfectly acceptable. But if someone says, “Christmas is really important to us, are you coming home at Christmas?” and you say, “No, not this year” — and yet for the last five years you've been doing that, you're going to expect a bit of a different reaction.

If someone asks to marry you and you just say, “Nope.” Depending on the exchange, of course, that may be appropriate. If you only just met the person, you may realise that they’re joking. Again, context is going to be very important, but the more significant the response to the other person and to you, the more effort you have to put in to ensure that you're putting credit in the relationship bank, so to speak.

The late Steve Covey of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talked about relationships as if they were bank accounts; relationship banks. He said that you have to put credit into relationships and then you go into the black. You're able to have a lot of credit in there and you can draw out. So, it may be things you say or misunderstandings that just take a little bit of that credit out, or you've disappointed the other person. You haven't stayed to the plan to meet them on Saturday night. Whatever it is, you're taking things out all the time.

We have to constantly give back or else we go into the red, and that's where we go into a serious conflict and then you've got to put a lot of effort back to ensure that your healthy bank account in the relationship term is a good thing. It's a great analogy to realise that when you start taking things out of the relationship, you have arguments.

You've let people down, you've had a sharp word, you've not listened to them. You're taking it out, so time must be invested to put things back.

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Mindset and Group Development

Learn how to apply Tuckman’s Model of Group Development to groups outside of work as a way of improving how you interact in all groups.

I want you to look at this Tuckman model because it's very important in terms of group relationships where there's two or three people together, including outside of the work situation; in a family situation or a social gathering. It can be friends that you've seen at the weekend, and people don't always turn up on time or let other people know when they change the plan.

Again, by talking about these things, we can turn a situation of diversity and difference into opportunity or conflict. If we don't talk about the differences, a group will never totally be cohesive and really perform, or have closeness and intimacy, which we require in friendships and relationships. So in terms of increasing our self confidence, I've said throughout the whole of this program, we must develop a mindset that is positive, that is challenging the assumptions and limitations we have within ourselves, but also then developing a level of linguistic mastery.

We have to set boundaries with other people. And a particular tip I'd like to share with you now is the art of saying no whilst not causing conflict with other people.

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Stages of Group Development

Understand Tuckman’s Model of Group Development and its value in developing cohesive groups and teams.

Let's have a look at the different stages of group development, highlighted by the writer, Tuckman. He said there were five different stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. We don't always have adjourning; that will be really when there's a project team. But the rest of the stages result in any situation where you've got a group of people coming together in a social situation, or in a work situation, or even a department that isn't regularly meeting on a definite basis, but they have an awareness that they are part of the group. They identify with that group and there are parameters around that.

So the first stage is forming. People come together. Either find themselves working for the first time or a team comes together to solve a problem. People's personalities come forward — you might get a few people jostling for attention to take the lead. Somebody running out the front, getting the flip chart up and saying, “Let's do this.” It's a forming stage and people's individual styles come to the fore.

The next stage is what we call the storming. That's when differences occur. There's diversity, there are challenges to how the group operates: for who's taking control, for who's not including someone else, for the direction, or the objectives, or the way of operating as a group. This is the stage that is really the most important to navigate. So often a manager or another group member says, “Hey, come on we're all on the same side. Let's realise our differences, put them aside and get on with the task.” If we ignore those differences and they're never really explored and examined and worked through, the group will never get to the next stage, which is norming.

Norming is when there is a collective consensus of, this is how we do things around here. Like a mini culture, really. There's a consensus of opinion. It becomes normed, so to speak. That can't occur unless you realise your differences, else conflict will keep bubbling up.

That next stage is performing. When a group has gone through, come together, realised differences, had an opportunity to work through them, talk about them, and appreciate that people are different, you can then develop norms, which are really negotiated and worked at. But they will influence the group and they result in what we call consensus; the degree to which norms are supported and worked with.

In a group situation, a norm might develop about when everybody should turn up on time, or people who have got to be organised and prepared. If that's never discussed, when people let other people down and agree to do things but don't, the pressure of the group, by discussing these things can actually say collectively, “How do we want to be.” When that norm develops, someone finds it very difficult to come outside of that, because they feel in some way pilloried, or resisted, or criticised or less than.

If we want to stay in the group, we have to adhere. Those norms are only adhered to when we've gone through a process where we feel that at least we've been listened to, even if the end result is not what we wanted.


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