Intimacy Inn

How Saying No Can Create Connection

By on January 17, 2014

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Intimacy Coach Cathy Vartuli talks about the importance of “No-ing” what you want.

Saying “No,” is crucial when forming an intimate connection — yet, saying no seems counterintuitive to a lot of people. Especially since (in our desire to be close) we don’t want to put the other person off.

The truth is, if I don’t have brakes on my car, the drive won’t be successful. If I can’t tell someone no, I’m not going to let them get close to me. Once I know I can tell a person to take it slow or back off, and that this person will respect my, “No” — I can open up a lot more, and feel safe doing so. Most people I’ve encountered haven’t encouraged this behavior from me.

People fear the word no, so they hint hint around it and hope the other person will guess that they mean — i.e. “I’m kind of busy,” “I’m kind of tired,” or “I’m not sure if I’m available that day.”

This isn’t helpful. Phrases like these are really just invitations for people to solve the problem. “Oh, well, I can go earlier. I can go later, it won’t be a problem. You can use my car.” Then all of a sudden, you’re stuck doing something you didn’t want to do.

Another issue is that people don’t take kindly to the word. They hear “No,” and they feel rejected.

Reid Mihalko has a really good solution for that, which I love: when someone tells you no, you can say, “Thank you for taking care of yourself.” That tricks your brain into going, “Wait, I wasn’t just rejected. I’m thanking them. Maybe everything’s okay.” The other person feels well-received and you feel good about making them feel safe.

If you start practicing your “no’s” with people, you can gain confidence and can connect with people better.

With some of my clients, I recommend that they tell a friend, or their family, that they’re going to practice “no” for the next day. They’re just going to say, “No,” to everything. If they want to, a few minutes later, they can change their mind. They end up having a great time while role modeling boundaries at the same time.

So many of us have never said, “No,” that practicing it can make a huge difference. It can help you feel safer when connecting with other people. Once you know you have brakes on the car, you’re ready to get out there and drive into connection.

When has saying “No” felt like a big “Yes” for you?