Three Scripts to Say No, With Love
Mannnnny of you wrote to me with follow-up questions to last week’s article about setting boundaries. Your questions inspired me to write three follow-up scripts for saying No—with love.
1. “Can we meet in person to talk about this?”
How do you set a boundary — verbally, in person — when you’re new to boundaries and the whole idea of speaking your truth makes you want to throw up?
Ohhhh trust me, I’ve been here. I’ve practiced the perfect message in my mind, only to find myself tongue tied when I met that person face-to-face.
What I’ve learned to do is name in the moment, as vividly and honestly as possible, my current emotions. In other words: Name it to tame it. When we name our feelings, we reduce our associated anxiety and discomfort.
In practice, this might sound like:
I want to be really honest with you: setting boundaries is new territory for me, and I really struggle saying “No.” Even right now in this moment, I’m finding my palms sweaty and my heart beating fast. Before coming to meet you, my mind was running wild trying to come up with the perfect thing to say, and the truth is, I’m afraid of letting you down. Because I’m committed to honoring my truth, right now this feels like a “No” for me because…
2. “Can I pick your brain... for free?"
What do you say when someone wants your time and energy, and they want it for free?
My very first business of working with individuals 1-on-1 launched entirely out of people emailing me to meet up for coffee so they could "pick my brain." The trick was turning their demand into offerings tailored to their needs.
Try this on:
I love that you’re coming to me with these questions! This is exactly what I’m so passionate about. There are a few ways I can help:
- I wrote about this exact topic here, which might support you in cracking this question. (Another option: Send me your #1 burning question, and I may be able to answer it in a future article/event/talk.)
- I offer 60-minute clarity calls for $X, where I’d be happy to explore this further. Head here to learn more and schedule a sesh.
- I have an upcoming event/retreat/dinner party about this exact thing! I'd love you to join, and you can find all the info here.
3. “I miss you! Where are you?! Can we hang out like old times?!”
How do you graciously say “No” to old friendships you’ve outgrown without saying “I’ve outgrown you,” ignoring their request, or lying?
In every stage of life, our friend group reflects where we’re at in that moment. Naturally, as we grow, some friendships may fade. Where it gets tricky is when we turn this into a story of obligation or guilt.
My approach here is always to first resolve the guilt, obligation, or conflict within myself. And then and only then, to speak truth without shame or blame to the other.
A tiny condensed story:
Friend A from forever ago reached out to me to talk. Let's call her Jane. I spiraled into anxiety and guilt and fear over the possibility of letting Jane down by saying “No.” I communicated to her from this place — over-explaining myself, trying not to hurt her feelings, attempting to caretake her emotions while also attempting to set a boundary at the same time. It was a disaster. Jane taught me to go within myself first before communicating with her.
A few weeks later, friend B from forever ago reached out to me to get together. Let's call him David. I noticed it didn’t feel aligned for me, and resolved the conflict internally by reminding myself that change is totally fine and natural, I fully cherish our time from the past, and today I can still love him from afar. I wrote, casually, Good to hear from you, David! It has been a while. Now is not a good time for me, but I’m sending love and a big hug! xx The result? No drama. Just trust in the process.