Noooo!Effective communication is the foundation for success in our professional and personal lives. Failed conversations erode trust–and worse still, they complicate decision-making and problem-solving, thereby making time and effort lost to conflict resolution all but unavoidable.In Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communication Patterns, Ben Benjamin, Amy Yeager, and Anita Simon explain why some conversations succeed and others fail–and offer invaluable strategies for saying “no” in the most positive yet assertive way possible. Declining requests takes a lot of tact, skill, and courage. In a Chicago Tribune article, Ben Benjamin puts “no” answers under the microscope, noting that, “A lot of times people say yes when they don’t want to, because they’re afraid of hurting or disappointing somebody.”

Like it or not, saying “no” may be inescapable. On the plus side, however, a “no” answer helps to define the boundaries of a discussion and make getting to “yes” a shared goal.  With that in mind, here are some useful techniques for taking the pain out of  “no” (for both speaker and listener):

  • Know your tendencies. Self-awareness can help you avoid a knee-jerk response in either direction.
  • Avoid ambiguity. If someone asks if you’d like to go out, and you aren’t interested, skip the procrastination and mixed messages.
  • Buy time. “There is a whole group of people who immediately say no without thinking and another who say yes without thinking,” Benjamin said. “I give the same advice to both groups: ‘Thanks for asking. Let me think about it.’ Then think about, ‘What do I want from this situation?'”

Say yes to better communication skills! Click Here to get the rest of Ben Benjamin’s tips on the right way to say no.