How To Stand Up For Yourself To Your Friends: Saying No 'Nicely'

Updated: Feb 4

The people we surround ourselves with are the ones that we have to say no to the most, yet this is where people have the hardest time setting boundaries. Due to the fear of hurting feelings, not fitting in, or the strong desire to avoid conflict- many people neglect to develop the critical skill of standing up for themselves to the people they care about.

Consequentially, they continuously mould themselves to fit the interests of others and wind up in a place that's far from who they are and what they want for themselves. And this is where people get taken advantage of. It's not easy, but we must become our most loyal advocate even when it's to our best friend, spouse, or parents. This post is a template for how we can do exactly that.

Some Background on Human Psychology

First we must understand a concept about human nature best described by the idiom which dates back to 1546:

'Give someone an inch and they'll take a mile'.

Definition: If you yield even a little, you’ll be taken advantage of. Compromise a little, and you will later compromise more.

People will try to get away with as much as they're allowed to. When someone wants you to do something, they push you right up until you start to firmly resist and then they ease off. And then they will push you a little farther next time until you resist again. This process goes on until suddenly you're in a situation you have no idea how you wound up in, doing things you didn’t want to do in the first place, and perhaps with some useless product you didn't want to buy.

The Inch By Inch process is used by people in all sorts of positions who are trained to not take no as an answer ('never give up!'), and that once you get someone to say 'yes', they're more likely to keep saying yes to your requests. It's also called 'the foot in the door' technique. This article highlights how salesmen should take advantage of the need for reciprocation, the appeal to authority, and our drive to remain consistent in our choices to get people to keep saying yes.

No, that's not from a human traffickers strategy manual, it's from the best selling authors in the field of influence, business, and psychology.

The tactics are the same, and they are used by anyone who wants someone to say yes to anything. Including salesmen, politicians and governments, pick up artists, interrogators, abusers, and even by your friends and family members who understand the jist enough to use it to get what they want from you.

A recent personal example is when my good friend asked me to share his business on the Girls Who Fight instagram page. I said no because I don’t solicit anything on my page, I only share the content that I believe to be relevant and valuable to my audience (no matter how much I love you). You don't see Nike shouting out their friends start ups do you? It wasn’t personal, but a professional boundary. Despite saying no, he asked me again the next week, and again the week after that. I finally said, ‘look, I already told you that I’m not going to share it, why do you keep asking me?’ He said, ‘sorry, I’m a real estate agent, it’s what we do. We don't give up at no".

As I write this post, dozens of examples of this strategy being used by the people around me flood my mind. It's interesting to note that the inch by inch strategy, or the 'no doesn't mean no' strategy, is not only used by those around us, but used proudly! The same person may very well watch a child predator explain how they used the strategy to manipulate children and think 'that's so wrong', and the next day pay someone to learn how to use the same strategies on clients at their real estate firm and think 'that's so smart!'

The point is that influence is not only a predator thing, but a human nature thing. We need to understand that even our best friends will naturally push us to do things that may not be in our best interest, and we have to have a strategy and the courage to say 'No!'. Here's the Girls Who Fight method.

#1. Trust Your intuition