If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
For many people saying no is a daily struggle which can cause a great deal of anxiety. We often fret about saying no, worrying that it will lead colleagues or friends to think of us as rude, confrontational or unwilling. However, saying yes all the time can mean you spread yourself too thin which can result in increased stress levels.
Despite its simplistic nature, the word ‘no’ can be manipulated so you don’t have to change your personality to start using it more often. Here are four ways you can start getting comfortable with saying ‘no.’
1. The reflecting No
This technique involves acknowledging the content and feeling of the request, then adding your assertive refusal at the end. For example “I know you want to talk to me about organising the annual department review, but I can't today”. Or “I know you’re looking forward to catching up this afternoon but I can’t come”.
2. The reasoned No
In this technique you give a very brief and genuine reason for why you are saying “No”. For example “I can't because I have a report that needs to be finished by tomorrow”.
3. The raincheck No
This is not a definite ‘no’. It is a way of saying ‘no’ to the request at the present moment but leaves room for saying ‘yes’ in the future. Only use it if you genuinely want to meet the request. For example “I can't today, but I could make it sometime next week”.
4. The enquiring No
As with the raincheck ‘no’ this is not a definite ‘no’. It is a way of opening up the request to see if there is another way it could be met. For example “Is there any other time you’d like to go?”
If you would like to learn more, our accredited course will help you develop a range assertiveness techniques. Join a workshop near you.
Susan Edwards is a medical careers consultant at the BMA.
I'm not sure your reflecting no is assertive as you say, in your example it seems to leave an ambiguity, ie ''I can't today'' suggest maybe some other time. I would suggest just saying No.
How about - No I don't want to - or No, I shan't be doing that. Nice and clear.
My favourite NO was delivered by Humphrey Lyttleton when he wrote to decline a knighthood - he wrote that "for reasons with which I shall not burden you, I have to decline your kind invitation" a delightful NO - without any possible room for umbridge.
How about the Phoebe-from-Friends no: "I would love to, but I don't want to".
It makes me think of Who's got the monkey? Please can you spend an hour outlining the changes/improvements you have thought about and put it in writing and then come to me next week and we will put a date in the diary for a 20 minute meeting.
Just say no. It is very liberating.
ican not understand why an english person can not accept without been insulted a strait no , sorry? a lot of other nationality have no problem with this .
Need to say it right as complaints follow (GPs all know from experience, but the evidence for this is very clear also).
'No antibiotics are needed' (for 2 days afebrile URTI, insect bite or sticky eye) = all to often complaint. This is exacerbated when MIU, WiC, Locum or A&E ST1 gives abx soon afterwards. 'No' in isolation seems not to be acceptable practice, and the ombudsman, NHSE, GMC, Public Health, NHS finance colleagues (big bucks link to service provision policy choices) need to decide if this is something they want to look at further.