Sometimes you have to ‘stop smiling’ when saying ‘no’

If you have said “no” twice, and there is a third attempt to get you to do something, it is time to stop smiling.

I read with some interest the article about the person whose co-worker was trying to organize her to go on a cruise, when she didn’t want to and couldn’t afford it. The person in that article didn’t want to hurt her co worker’s feelings by saying that she didn’t want to go.

I feel like I’m often in a similar situation with a friend of mine. I don’t know how she does it, but she gets me to do all sorts of things I don’t want to do. For example, we were out for supper the other night. I said I wasn’t having dessert, but she said, “Let’s just have a look at the menu and see what they have.” Then she asked what I liked the look of. Then it was, “How about we split one?”

I tried the “Be clear and kind” thing and said I could see that she really wanted a dessert, but I really didn’t want any dessert. Then said that she couldn’t eat a whole one, and really wanted to try one, so could I help her out. She’s smiling and looking at me. So, the next thing I know, I’m eating a dessert, and paying for something I didn’t want. It is so frustrating. How do I get her to stop?

Congratulations for working with the “clear and kind” thing. In most situations, using that, and the guidelines in that previous article, is really helpful and gets results. Most people, when they receive a clear and kind message, stop whatever action it was that caused it.

When that doesn’t work, there are lots of words to describe a person who keeps at things until they get what they want:  determined… goal-directed… self-centred…aggressive….a bully.

Those words can all describe someone who pressures or coerces someone to do something. Someone who’s behaviour is aggressive.

Sounds like you get pressured by your friend’s continued efforts, and coerced by your desire to be a helpful person, not wanting to disappoint her. Her persistence, after you say “no” is aggressive behaviour.

Not all aggressive behavior is loud and in your face, threatening violence. Sometimes the person who is being aggressive will smile and talk sweetly. You only see the aggressive behaviour in the way that they are persistent and don’t seem to care what you want, as long as they get what they want.

So, how does one deal with someone who is aggressive as they are smiling and talking sweetly?

Well, it starts with what you have been doing: being clear and kind, following that process from the previous article. If, however, you have said “no” twice, and there is a third attempt to get you to do something, it is time to stop smiling.

It is time to review the facts out loud. Something like “ I’ve said “no” twice now. I really mean it. I don’t want any dessert. Please, don’t ask again.”

If she persists in another way, repeat what you just said, only once. After that, be clear and kind to yourself. Maybe it is time to say that it is time for you to leave.

Uncomfortable? You bet!

Recognize that it is not you that has put things into this uncomfortable situation. Had her aggressive behaviour stopped, things would have been different.

Will doing this stop the person from that kind of behaviour? Probably not the first time. There is a good chance that you will need to be on alert around this person for quite some time.

You deserve to have your words heard. Good luck.

If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells and Andrew Lochhead. It appears every second Friday.


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