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How To Say No To or Ask For Something!

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Have you ever stumbled when asking for what you want or saying no to something? Maybe you were talking to your partner, kids, family members, co-workers, or friends. Maybe you came across as demanding and insensitive. Here is a simple way to ask or to say no more effectively.



Follow the DEAR MAN acronym



D: Describe

E: Express

A: Assert

R: Reinforce


M: Stay Mindful

A: Appear confident

N: Negotiate


Lay everything out on the table


You want to start off the ask or no by completing the DEAR part of this acronym. Walk through all the pieces and then pause to let the other person have a chance to respond.


Describe

Here, you are going to preface the ask or no, with the back story. Let the other person know where you are coming from so that they can have a higher likelihood of understanding.

Ex: The other day when I went to the grocery store, I asked you to clean the kitchen and when I came home it was not done.

Express

Here is where you let them know how you are feeling or how you felt in a certain situation. You want to use "I" statements here to make sure you are talking about your experience, not something the other person did wrong. I feel/ felt _______ when _______ because _________.


Ex: I felt really deflated when I got home because when the kitchen is dirty it is hard for me to relax.

Assert

Here is where you want to be as clear as possible! Make your ask or say no directly! Do not leave the other person guessing what you want or what you are actually saying no to.


Ex: The next time I ask you to clean the kitchen, please make sure it gets done.

Reinforce

This is one of the most important steps, and also the step that most people forget about. We all know it is easier to compromise, comply, and be open to change when we think we will benefit from it. It is no different in this situation. Make sure we are adding on how the person we are talking to will benefit from listening to us.


Ex: If that happens. I will come home and we will be able to just enjoy each other rather than spending another hour working and the house feeling tense.

OKAY! Let's put it all together!

The other day when I went to the grocery store, I asked you to clean the kitchen and when I came home it was not done. I felt really deflated when I got home because when the kitchen is dirty it is hard for me to relax. The next time I ask you to clean the kitchen, please make sure it gets done. If that happens. I will come home and we will be able to just enjoy each other rather than spending another hour cleaning with the house feeling tense.



Keep in mind during the conversation


Mindful

Saying mindful means staying on topic, and keeping your emotions regulated. It is VERY easy to allow the conversation to devolve into something else and then never come back to the original ask or no. When we stay mindful, we redirect the conversation back on track every time we notice that it has gone into another conversation.


Ex: I notice that we are now talking about my anxiety. Yes, that is important to talk about, maybe in another conversation. Right now I want to talk about getting the kitchen clean when I ask.


Appear Confident

We may not be confident at all when we are making our request or saying no, but we do not have to let the other person know that! Appearing confident does not mean that we have to be confident. Taking words out such as, uhh, umm, like, soo, will make you seem like you know what you are talking about. Making good eye contact and being aware of your body language are other ways to appear confident. You might need to write out your DEAR and practice it in the mirror a few times before you talk to the person!


Negotiate

Make sure we are holding healthy boundaries, not rigid boundaries. Leave room for conversation and compromise. Be willing to hear the other person's side of the story and take that into consideration when continuing the conversation.


Ex: Oh, I didn't realize that your grandmother called while I was gone and you ended up talking to her for an hour. Next time, can you shoot me a quick text so I know that I am walking into a dirty kitchen rather than being disappointed when I think it is going to be clean and it is not?


 

Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing compassionate and tailored mental health support for moms at all stages of motherhood. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!

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