Sunday, January 18, 2009

Monday Morning Motivator - Refusal Skills

Sometimes the seemingly strongest-willed people find themselves trapped in a conversation that ends in a volunteer commitment. Aack! They may have initially declined, but by the time the conversation ended, their NO had morphed into a reluctant YES.

Here are REFUSAL SKILLS STRATEGIES to help NO responses remain firm NO’s.

1. Monitor and moderate your BODY LANGUAGE. Look them in the eye, make your voice strong, smile, and say NO. Show your conviction.

2. SUGGEST AN ALTERNATIVE. Another volunteer? Another option?

3. CHANGE THE TOPIC. This is imperative. It may seem abrupt – and that’s okay. Just do it. Slip into your acting role and earn an Oscar. Become passionate, intrigued, immersed in another subject. Use your body language.

4. If the topic change doesn’t fly, or you can’t think of one, EXIT. Tap into your creativity and get out of there.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have successfully executed a NO response.

Beware: If you give multiple excuses why you can’t do something, the other person may wear you down. They may say other people have deadlines, have company, have a broken arm too. Then, you’re trapped.

If you do give a reason, be sure it’s a gem. You’ll be out of town, so you cannot do X on a certain date. That’s a viable reason. You know you’re safe.

One option is to give a BROKEN RECORD RESPONSE. Keep giving the same
reason, over and over and over again. Same wording. Say it with a smile. I promise, they’ll quit asking.

I am a big believer in volunteering, in giving back to organizations and communities. And – I also believe we often over-commit and sabotage ourselves. Give yourself permission to say NO, use these refusal skill strategies and you will be successful.

This tip came from my Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors course. It’s offered in January. Check my web site for more information:

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a national bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, is due out January, 2009. Contact her at

Margie Lawson -- presenter, psychotherapist, writer -- lives at the top of a Colorado mountain west of Denver. Margie merged her two worlds, psychology and writing, to develop psychologically anchored editing systems and techniques that teach writers how to write page turners. A former college professor, Margie works as a psychotherapist, writes fiction and nonfiction, and presents full day master classes for writers internationally. Go to for more information.


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