Saying no: a routine for some, a real ordeal for others. Whether it's due to fear of hurting people, lack of confidence, or ego… this blockage can be particularly crippling. However, according to science, you shouldn't feel afraid or apprehensive about saying no!
Fear of “no”: An imagined transposition
How can we, thanks to psychology, analyze the foundations of the fear of “no” in order to better free ourselves from it? That's the entire purpose of a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Its authors solicited the participation of 406 individuals who were invited to imagine themselves as a guest or invited to attend or invite to any event. The guests had to find a way to decline the invitation, while each time weighing the consequences of their refusal.
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Guinea pigs overestimated the anger or disappointment that rejection would cause almost every time. Those who played the role of convener had a less dramatic perception of the situation. Thus, experience proves that this fear of saying “no” can simply be a reaction driven by an imagined and exaggerated expectation of the interlocutor's behavior.
Forced “yes”: the worst solution
This transfer may be difficult to erase from one's mind, even though it is completely illegitimate: in fact, according to Sebastian Ocklenburg, a psychology researcher in Psychology Today, “ Don't worry too much if your friend who invited you is angry or sad […] They probably won't feel that way and will accept that you have other plans at the moment“.
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In short, not saying “no” out of fear is not a solution. Even “worse” lying is what Mary Haddow, a clinical psychologist and author of Knowing How to Say No, says. In her book, she paints a psychological profile of people who find it more difficult to say no. These people often have one thing in common: a fear of hurting people. A personality trait that comes from childhood.
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