When you encounter a partner who is two aggressive, and overwhelms you with too many words, too much emotion and drama, or too much attention, you need to learn to set limits. If you’re interested in keeping the relationship going, you also need to learn to step up and hit the ball in your partner’s direction. Learning to say ‘no’ or even to be silent in a neutral way is not necessarily easy, but is essential for avoiding uncomfortable situations. Be polite, but firm when you say “no, thank you” and you will stop the other person from imposing on you. Often, saying nothing is the best tactic. Wait until your blustery partner runs out of steam, and then you can make your statement.
If no question is actually asked, you needn't volunteer, no matter how sad the story is. If a direct question is asked, you can learn to be polite, and say “I'm so sorry, but I can't.” If that's too difficult, say you have to check with someone else (your calendar, your spouse, your kids, your boss, your pets) or think about it before you answer. If you have trouble saying no in person, use e-mail or call when you know the other person will be out, and leave a polite refusal on their voice mail. Often, saying no is an unconscious test. If you feel unsure about whether you're being respected, valued, or cared about, you may feel like saying “no.” After you say no, if your refusal is handled with respect, caring and consideration, your questions may disappear, and you may change your mind.
Run through a scene of a situation in which you want to say “no,” for example with a demanding neighbor, partner or relative, and practice saying “no” several different ways in your imagination. Watch in TV and movies for examples of people saying “no” with grace and dignity (you can find them, if you look) and imitate them.
Adapted from: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Adams Media) ISBN# 978-1-59869-325-6 and It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page) ISBN 1_56414_548_4
© Tina B.Tessina, 2008