Communication skills

5 crazy ways to avoid saying ‘no’

- February 28, 2015 2 MIN READ

If, like most business owners, you’re always struggling to say ‘no’, maybe it’s time to take a bit more of a left-field approach.

Last month I saw this post on the Flying Solo Facebook page.  It clearly resonated with the Flying Solo community as many people shared their struggles with saying ‘no’, especially when it came to unreasonable requests from demanding clients.

So today, I’m here to help. If you don’t want to say ‘yes’, but don’t know how to say ‘no’, here are five ways to avoid answering the question altogether!

1. Answer with interpretative dance

Whether it’s a client, colleague or friend, if you’re tempted to blurt out a people-pleasing ‘yes’, zip your lips and answer with movement.

It’s not as hard as it seems. Simply stare intently into the other person’s eyes, slowly flail your arms around their ear drums and occasionally tumble, monkey-like, near their feet.

But remember, it’s interpretive dance, so make sure your moves are decidedly morbid. (Tip: Be proactive and memorise choreography pieces from dance documentaries such as Zombie Apocolypse and The Exorcist). Facial expressions are important too, so bite your bottom lip and kind of snarl.  If you need guidance, follow David Brent’s instructional video.

You’ll soon find the other person will sidle away quietly or clap along nervously. Either way, in both instances they’ll withdraw their request. Win!

2. Buy some time

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “Can I get back to you?” and then instantly moving to another country with a changed identity.

3. Use sneaky body language tricks

It’s not widely known in the business community, but if you agree to something while crossing your fingers behind your back, it renders any agreement null and void.

If you get busted and the other party broadcasts your trickery, don’t panic. Calmly and casually look at the other person’s dilated pupils and explain it’s actually their eyes that are crossed and not your fingers. Then dump them at the nearest optometrist and RUN!

4. Experience sudden difficulties

Even if you’ve been conversing with someone for hours, the minute you’re faced with a no-inducing request, very seriously and firmly say, “I don’t speak English”.  They won’t believe you, so repeat the sentence a few times, referring frequently to your English for Dummies app.

For extra effect throw in something like, “Je bent een roze buffel, ik moet nu weg te slaan.” (This loosely translates to, “You are a pink buffalo, I must skip away now.”)

Other ways ‘sudden difficulties’ could manifest:

  • A sudden loss of hearing
  • Rapid onset ‘vow of silence’
  • The need to discuss any decision with Elvis

5. Be perplexingly positive

Chris Treager is a perky, positive character in the American comedy Parks and Recreation. He has an uncanny knack of rolling every situation in glitter, especially the negative ones. He even broke up with his girlfriend without her realising it.

You too can ‘pull a Treager’.

Let’s say a client asks for a series of time-wasting meetings in order to micro manage your work. Here’s your Treager-esque response:

“That is literally THE most fantastic idea I’ve ever heard. Better still, let’s take a trip, or move in together! In a perfect world that would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Stay fantastic. Take your vitamins. Peace out. Bye!”

Once you’ve given the above tactics a go you’ll soon realise it’s perhaps not as hard to say ‘no’ as you first thought; at which point you might want to check out this article about harnessing the power of no, and this one about dealing with difficult clients.

Peace out! Bye! 

What are your thoughts on these avoidance strategies? Do you have your own equally futile but fun suggestions for saying no?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"