5 Ways To Deal With Someone Who Can't Take 'No' For An Answer

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What To Do When Someone Is Not Taking No For An Answer

Do you know someone who can't take "no" for an answer? And are you always saying, "no" and making excuses?

They are a "Suggester" and you are a "Naysayer." Your conversations probably look like this:

"Honey, it’s raining. Take an umbrella with you."

"No, Mom. I’m good. I don’t need an umbrella."

"I don’t want you catching your death from pneumonia."

"No, really, Mom. I don’t want to carry an umbrella."

"Honey, it’s pouring. You’ll get soaked."

"Mom. Stop. I’m wearing a rain jacket with a hood."

"You know I worry about you so much."

"Fine. I’ll take the umbrella."

Hearing familiar echoes? Someone who's not taking "no" for an answer doesn't let up and it can be difficult to respond. 

RELATED: What Happened When I Stopped Saying 'No' To My Husband For 30 Days

Here are 5 steps to properly respond to a someone who's won't take 'no' for an answer.

1. Remember that you, the Naysayer, and the Suggester love each other dearly.

The Suggester could be your partner, sibling, or best friend — anybody who loves you.

And the issue can be about anything — a fabulous standup comedy class you would get so much out of, the dinner date that your partner set up with another couple without checking first, or the family reunion you’ve been dreading since last year.

The other person always has a single, great reason why they’re proposing this particular course of action for you to follow. They believe you will benefit.

In fact, this could be any conversation about anything with any person who loves you dearly, only your best interests at heart, and offers a "crystal clear" path to action and results.

Yet, they won’t take "no" for an answer.

These are conversations that have fallen off the rails, with two speakers who are completely missing each other’s point of view.

And if you’re playing the role of Naysayer in conversations like this, it can feel like you’re being manipulated into doing something that you don’t want to do.

2.​ Ask, "Why should I do this? What benefit do you see?"

You'll always have "good" reasons for resisting.

Some are practical and honest reasons: "I have surgery scheduled for that day" or "I don’t eat shellfish because I’m deathly allergic.”

It’s hard to argue with these reasons and most Suggesters will gracefully accept them.

Some excuses masquerade as "good" reasons: "I don’t have the time" or "I don’t have the money."

Truthfully, you have all the time in the world to devote to those things that are priorities for you and the all ability in the world to work to make those priorities happen.

"This isn’t a priority for me" is a much more honest response.

"I’ve never tried this before and I know I won’t like it" is a toddler’s excuse for refusing to eat vegetables and other "strange" foods.

If you haven't tried sushi before, but you're saying you "know" you won't like it, then the "know" is a lie.

"This isn’t me" is much the same. You might be too "shy," "afraid," or "embarrassed." You might describe yourself with any limiting characteristic and yet you’ll never know what might happen until you try.

You may offer "I don’t want to" as an acceptable final answer. This is the fallback position of a stalemated adult. Keep in mind that the superhero power of a toddler is "No!" but it doesn’t work well for adults.

Take a look at what deeper reasons might lay behind this response.

Remember that most "reasons" are actually poor excuses for not putting yourself forward into new experiences.

Unless you’re a soothsayer of extraordinary talent, you don’t really know how this new experience will turn out — you’re just guessing.

So, how about it? Jump. Say "Yes." Plunge into a new experience!

RELATED: How To Be Honest — Even When It's Hard

3. Determine if your reasons are honest or merely excuses.

You still have good reasons for saying "no," so now what?

It's time to acknowledge that you don’t actually know everything about yourself. Other people have insight into your being that you don’t recognize.

However self-aware you are, you still have blind spots about yourself. "Why do I always react this way?" points to something that you don’t know about yourself and is well worth looking into.

You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you can do this more effectively with others. Your friends and family, in some very important ways, know you better than you know yourself.

4. Acknowledge that the Suggester may know something about you that you don’t know about yourself.

Trust the Suggester for a moment.

Sign up for the standup comedy class and learn how funny you are in front of an audience. Go to that dinner with the couple you already know you dislike. And attend the family reunion and have a blast.

What’s the worst that could happen? You could have a miserable experience. Will it kill you? Probably not. Will you learn something about yourself? It’s likely that you will.

Go figure! You might even enjoy yourself.

5. Reach a resolution.

Why does the Suggester continue to suggest or invite?

First, they never heard you say, "no" in the first place. Your "no" got lost in the background noise and didn’t register.

Second, they're 100 percent addicted to getting you to comply with their wishes. You’re dealing with somebody who's so convinced that they're ready, willing, and able to drag your sorry butt into submission, kicking and screaming.

Either way, you need to say "no" in a clear manner and draw new boundaries.

Here's what not to do: Don’t get angry. Remember, you have an important relationship with this person who loves you.

Don’t offer reasons unless you actually have surgery scheduled or are allergic to shellfish. (Pull out your EpiPen if you need to.)

Reasons can be taken as obstacles to overcome.

For example, you say, "I don’t have the money right now." But, you intend to convey, "I’m not paying for this. Quit asking."

The Suggester hears, "Help me figure out how to pay for this."

Boom. Money found, obstacle overcome, and your "no money" reason crashes.

What’s actually going on with a Suggester, who can't take no for an answer?

They may be capable of inviting and cajoling, ad nauseum, but they're not simply being a jerk.

The Suggester is expressing their love for you. Given the intimate nature of nagging, you remember that you love this person dearly as well.

In fact, you don’t really know what to think. There could be a benefit to you that you just can’t imagine.

If you ask the Suggester, "Why should I do this? What will I gain?” Their response may just surprise you.

Next, examine your reasons for not saying "Yes." Is it a reason or an excuse?

How should you respond to a Suggester who's not taking no for an answer?

Start with a simple, "No, thank you. I know you think I’ll benefit in these ways." Then, list the benefits and follow up with, "I’m spending my time/money/energy doing another activity, which has become a real priority for me."

This response lets the Suggester know that you heard them and makes it clear that their suggestion is not a priority for you.

Also, set new limits. Say, "I'm uncomfortable discussing this further. Let’s change the subject." Or, "You’ve asked me every day for the past month. Can you limit your requests to once a month?"

You can even say, "No, stop it! Now!"

And, if this doesn’t work the first hundred times, repeat those two steps as many times as you need to. At some point, one of you will give in.

Remember, if you "give in" and accept the invitation, you might have a miserable experience or you just might have the time of your life. There’s only one way to tell.

Either say "no" in a way that acknowledges your partner and draws new boundaries. Or say "yes" and embark on that new adventure.

RELATED: How To Set Healthy Boundaries — So You Stop Getting Hurt

Susan Kulakowski, MBA, is a writer who has been actively pursuing personal and professional development since 2017. Her focus is making personal development courses available for minors (ages 8 to 17) and their families. And yes, she did enroll in that standup comedy class and got a few laughs. Visit The Relationship Mastery Institute on Facebook for insights on relationships, communication, and love.