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4 Ways to Say No to Difficult People

Standing up for yourself is a practice, and you may not get it perfect the first time. That's okay. Start incorporating these ideas into your daily practice and notice what happens.

Just when I’m feeling Zen, confident I’m manifesting a beautiful life à la Law of Attraction, someone in a bad mood or who is clearly not concerned about me, enters my personal space and gets me completely off-kilter.

You know who I’m talking about—those who don’t listen to you, push their way on you. They are so skilled that they make you question your desires, values, or goals as they charmingly persuade you to their will.

Oh man. Really?

Ya, well, yes. Difficult people are everywhere and try as we may we can’t avoid them. I know. I tried. Tried staying at home, attempted the single life, and purged my life of all the bad nuts.

And still, they found me.

Well, that didn’t work.

I’m in no way trying to convince you to settle for problematic relationships. I am so much happier with more agreeable people in my life. Still, the world is full of challenging people we work with, share a house with, or have to call on the phone.

Here is your opportunity to practice radical acceptance, folks.

Once I accepted that I couldn’t always stop them from making their way into my existence, I decided I would learn how to deal better with them. So I set out on a multi-year study of relationship and communication skills. I got quite good at both of them, and also got good at achieving what I want in this diverse world, pushy people and all.

Now I teach these skills to my clients.

I’m going to condense the best things I’ve learned about saying “no” to troublesome people into the four most useful things I’ve learned:

1. Don’t apologize.

You have a right to say “no,” and it isn’t your responsibility to sacrifice your happiness for someone else. Be your enchanting, honest self, and say what you mean.

2. Be confident.

No back-pedaling. Just. Say. No. Okay, you can say “no thank you” to make it a little softer. But remain firm.

3. Repeat it.

Primarily when others have been taught to run over us, you’ll need to do this often. They will try to distract you, make you feel guilty, charm you, whatever it takes to get their way. Keep repeating your “no, thank you” over and over again. You can add things like, “we can talk about that other thing you are bringing up later, but right now I just want to focus on this one thing…my answer is no.”

4. Keep a confident physical posture.

I had a client come down for a week-long retreat with me—she was a doctor. She had grown up in backwoods in a trailer with no community or family support and managed to make her way through med school. I thought she was terrific—I was in awe of her.

But her body language still reflected that small disregarded child. And her colleagues were running over her because of it.

I sat on the couch next to her and showed her, exactly, how to have a confident posture. Sit up straight, shoulders back, and as my daughters and I say, “Boobies Up.” Then I coached her how to look people in the eye and lean forward a little bit as she spoke with them. These small changes in posture gave her an air of confidence even when she didn’t feel it inside.

Standing up for yourself is a practice, and you may not get it perfect the first time. That’s okay. Start incorporating these ideas into your daily practice and notice what happens. You mostly will be amazed at the results. Other times it won’t go well–view it a learning experience. Either way, you are about to unleash your most illuminating self.

To learn more about Tami Green, visit https://www.tamigreen.com.

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