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How to Say No

How to Say No

Most of us are probably too quick to say yes and too slow to say no. It’s worth asking yourself where you fall on that spectrum.

If you have trouble saying no, you may find the following strategy proposed by Tim Harford, the British economist I mentioned earlier, to be helpful. He writes, “One trick is to ask, “If I had to do this today, would I agree to it?” It’s not a bad rule of thumb, since any future commitment, no matter how far away it might be, will eventually become an imminent problem.”

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The words “yes” and “no” get used in comparison to each other so often that it feels like they carry equal weight in conversation. In reality, they are not just opposite in meaning, but of entirely different magnitudes in commitment.

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We agree to many requests not because we want to do them, but because we don’t want to be seen as rude, arrogant, or unhelpful. Often, you have to consider saying no to someone you will interact with again in the future—your co-worker, your spouse, your family and friends.

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