Asking for What We Want + Saying NO

How to prepare yourself to ask for what you want or to say no to a request

Asking for what we want or saying no to unwanted requests doesn’t come easily for many people, especially those who often have difficulty in relationships and/or tend to be people pleasers.

Here’s a brief checklist adapted from the DBT interpersonal Effectiveness Module for you and or your clients to use when deciding how firmly or intensely you want to ask for something or to say no.

the checklist
  • Is this person able to give me what I want? Do they have the capability needed? (Making a request)
    Do I have what the person wants? (Saying no)
  • How important is my goal in asking for or saying to no in this instance? (Making a request)
    Is this relationship shaky or is it solid? (Both)
    Is myself-respect on the line in this instance? (Both)
  • Do I most often do things for myself? (Making a request)
    Am I acting helpless when I am not? (Both)
    Will saying, “no” make me feel bad about myself, even when I am thinking about it wisely? (Saying no)
  • Is the person required by law or moral code to give me what I want? (Asking)
    Am I required to give the other person what they want? (Saying no)
    Would saying, no” violate the other person’s rights? (Saying no)
  • Am I responsible for directing this person or telling them what to do (Asking)
    Does the person have authority over me? (Both)
    Is what the other person is asking within their authority? (Saying no)
  • Is what I want appropriate to the current relationship? (Asking)
    Is what the other person is asking for appropriate to our current relationship? (Saying no)
  • Will not asking for what I want keep the peace but cause problems in the long run? (Asking)
    Is giving in to keep the peace right now more important than the long-term welfare of the relationship? (Saying no)
    Will I eventually regret or resent saying no? (Saying no)
  • What have I done for this person? Have I been giving at least as much as I have been asking for? (Asking)
    Am I willing to accept or appreciate what I am given if the person says yes? (Asking)
    Do I owe this person a favor? (Both)
    Do they do a lot for me? (Both)
  • Have I done my homework? Do I know all the facts I need to know to support my request? (Ask)
    Am I clear about what I want? (Ask)
    Is the other person’s request clear? (Saying no)
    Do I know exactly what I am agreeing to? (Saying no)
  • Is this a good time to ask? (Ask)
    Is the person “in the mood” for listening and paying attention to me? (Ask)
    Am I catching the person when they are likely to say yes to my request? Ask)
    Is this a bad time to say no? (Saying no)
    Should I hold off asking for awhile? (Ask)

Completing this checklist prior to asking for what one wants or saying no to a request, and discussing it with a support person can provide a sense of confidence in your process of decision making.

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Hi, I'm Lisa!

My mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based tools to meet the unique needs of individuals and families who want to create a life worth living, and coaches who want to help others do the same.

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