Saying no when you feel pressured to say yes can become much easier if you remember the following simple words: Position, Interest, Need.

A position is what you feel you deserve.  An Interest is what getting what you feel you deserve will do for you.  A Need is the reason why that interest is important to you.

Usually people who say no simply articulate their position.  In my blog “The Inigo Montoya Effect” I wrote about Meredith, a woman who needed to say no.  She had decided not to baby-sit infant children anymore because she needed to pay more attention to her own children so that she could fulfill her role as the primary influence in their lives.  Position, Interest, Need.  The problem was the she had previously agreed to baby-sit an infant child for a long-time friend.  Now she needed to tell her friend that she would no longer baby-sit for her.   She needed to say no.

Her position was that she could no longer care for infant children.

Her need was to have more time to focus on her own children.

Her interest was being the primary influence in her children’s lives.

When it came to crafting her message to her friend, it was important that she focused on her stating her needs and her interests.  I encouraged her to avoid talking much, if at all, about her position because that was a matter that could be debated.  Couldn’t she, in fact, find some way to balance infant-care with caring for young children? Rather, I encouraged Meredith to focus on sharing her needs and interests with her friend.  You can argue with a person about what they think, but you can’t argue with them about what they feel.  Needs and interests are about feelings while positions tend to be about opinions. That is why I suggest focusing on needs and interests when you decide to say no.

The next time that you need to deliver a difficult message, try to determine the following: What is your position?  What do you need?  Why do you need it? Then focus on communicating what you need and why you need it.  Practice your message so that you can communicate with confidence.  If all else fails, contact me! :-D