Saying no and dealing with rejection
‘No’ is a simple word, but it’s often hard to say. It’s important to learn how to say no clearly and firmly. Don’t do anything you don’t want to.
But saying no sounds easier than it is. How do you go about it?
How to say ‘No’
Sometimes you might be asked out on a date, but you just don’t like that person in that way. How can you say ‘no’ without hurting their feelings?
Below are some tips. They’re also handy in other situations where you need to say no – for example, if your partner suggests something that you really don’t want to do.
Try and be honest about why you don’t want to go out with them – without mentioning any physical reasons, such as their weight or poor fashion sense. For example:
‘I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel the same way.’
‘I appreciate the way you feel, but I don’t think it’ll work out.’
‘I’m very busy at the moment, so I just don’t have time for a relationship.’
If you can’t think of anything, then just say ‘no’. You don’t always have to explain yourself.
- Be firm, so they know you really mean it. But be nice, too. Don’t laugh, or say they’re being ridiculous.
- To make the situation less awkward, try to start a conversation after your turndown. Like, mention a film you’ve just seen, or something funny that happened to you. If this doesn’t work, just politely excuse yourself and go talk to someone else or move away.
- Appreciate the friendship. If the person is a friend, tell them that you appreciate their friendship and hope the two of you can still hang out. It may be awkward for a while and they may need some space to recover. But as long as you continue to treat them normally and with respect, the friendship may even grow stronger.
Tips for saying no
- Look the other person in the eye.
- Say clearly that you don’t want to do what they’ve asked.
- Be aware of your body language (so don’t smile and look at the floor).
- If necessary, explain why not.
- Pay attention to the other person’s reaction.
- If necessary, keep saying no until the other person gets the message.
Daring to say no
Many people find it hard to say no even when they’d like to. You might find yourself thinking irrational thoughts, like ‘If I say no, they won’t like me’. The answer is to change them into rational thoughts: ‘If I say no I won’t lose my boyfriend/girlfriend. If they respect me, they’ll still like me.’
Dealing with rejection
Whether it’s a job or a date, everyone ends up getting rejected at some point. And it’s a fact of life: being told ‘no’ hurts. It can be embarrassing and overwhelming. Everyone reacts differently and there are no quick fixes, but here are some basic tips that might help.
How to overcome being rejected
Dumped? Feeling the pain? Confused? Join the club. Here are some tips to help you come out the other side:
- Your pain is normal
Anger, sadness, disappointment, and hurt are common emotions to experience after a rejection. You may even have physical side effects, such as headaches, stomach pain, or nausea. (If you suffer from depression or similar conditions, your symptoms may even be worse, so don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.)
- You’re allowed to be sad
You’re only human and it’s normal to feel overcome by emotions after a rejection. You don’t have to ‘be strong’ or ‘put on a brave face.’
- Find and express your emotions
If this is the first time you’ve experienced rejection or the end of a relationship, it may take you a while to sort out your feelings.
Having a good cry in a place you feel safe, such as your bedroom, can help release pent-up emotions. Let it all out. We all do it. Being a real person means you have real emotions. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Try to write down how you feel – not for anyone else, just for yourself. It can help you to work out how you really feel. And once the thoughts are down on paper, they might stop swirling round in your head.
- Share your feelings with friends
Share your experience with people who care about you. And listen to their stories. If you hear how others have coped with rejection, you may start to believe that you’ll be able to cope as well.
- Stick to the facts
It can be easy to start over-analysing the situation or to add details that may or may not be true. For example, instead of saying:
‘That girl didn’t kiss me at the party because I’m fat and ugly.’
Stick to the facts, which are:
‘That girl didn’t kiss me at the party.’
We know that it’s still a rejection and it doesn’t change the fact that a girl didn’t kiss you. But by sticking with what actually happened, you avoid upsetting yourself even more.
- Avoid physical violence or seeking revenge
If someone rejects you, it hurts, but it’s their absolute right. Never, ever try to hurt them back. Also, don’t take out your bad feelings on other people around you, by getting aggressive or violent. This will just push people away from you – and likely lead to more rejections and unhappiness.
- Don’t fall into bad habits
Alcohol, smoking, partying, drugs, random sex, greasy food… These are all methods people use to try and comfort themselves. But in the long run, they will only make you feel worse about yourself. Better to occupy your mind with something worthwhile, like sports or creativity.
- Keep active. Learn something new.
The busier you are, the less time you will have to feel sad. Take up a new sport. Join a club. Learn how to play an instrument. Try a new hobby. Learn a new skill. You will meet new people and feel better about yourself.
- Focus on your positive qualities
Rebuild your self-esteem! Start by asking your friends what they like about you. If this feels too awkward, write your own list of qualities that make you the perfect person to date. Are you loyal and caring? A good listener? A talented cook? Try to remember the times your friends and family have praised you. It will remind you that you are indeed quite fabulous.
- Give yourself time to heal and forgive.
Like most clichés, it’s mostly true: time is the great healer. But clichés are often easier said than done!
We know it hurts now and it’s hard to imagine ever feeling different. But one day you’ll come out the other side. Promise. Then you’ll be ready to meet new and interesting people – one of whom will likely fall for you!
Dealing with a persistent admirer
It can be flattering when someone takes an extra interest in you. But it can also become uncomfortable, especially if you don’t like them in the same way. It can be especially tricky if this person is someone you see around a lot, such as a friend or colleague.
But if they keep following you around and asking you out even after you’ve said ‘no’, you’ll have to take a firmer approach.
- Double-check your feelings. Are you certain you never want to go out with this person? By telling them to back off in a more direct manner, you increase the chances of hurting their feelings.
- Let them know why. If you’re sure you don’t want to go out with them, then gently highlight your differences. For example:
‘We don’t have enough in common and I am just not that interested.’
‘We don’t have the same hobbies or friends.’
‘I am a lot younger/older than you and we have very different interests.’
- Keep your distance from the person and try to avoid eye contact or conversations. Try to avoid being alone with them. If the person talks to you, take a step back and stand well away from them. If you do have to work together, be polite but don’t touch them or talk more than is necessary to get the job done.
- Talk to someone who understands. Tell a friend what’s happening so they’re aware of the situation and help you out.
- Talk about your crush or partner. Mention your current partner or crush in a positive way when your admirer is around. Never bring up your partner’s negative qualities as this can give the impression that you might break up with them. For example:
‘I’m so excited to see Jeff after school today. We’re really hitting it off!’
‘Oh, I can’t wait to finish work and spend time with Sally. She’s so gorgeous!’
- If all else fails, be blunt. If you’ve tried everything, and they still haven’t realised that you’re not interested, then it’s time for brutal honesty. Tell them that you are not attracted to them. Make clear that you can never see yourself going out with them. It may be hurtful, but hopefully, they will get the picture and leave you alone.