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Accepting "No" for an Answer

Dad talking to son

​​​​​​This information is included in our Guide to Communication Skills. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Say “Okay.”
  3. Calmly ask for a reason if you really don’t understand.
  4. If you disagree, bring it up later.

Reasons for using the skill, Accepting "No" for an Answer:

You will be told “No” many times in your life. Getting angry and upset only leads to more problems. If you are able to appropriately accept a “No” answer, people might be more likely to say “Yes” to your requests in the future.

Don’t stare, make faces or look away. If you are upset, control your emotions. ​Try to relax and stay calm. Listening carefully will help you understand what the other person is saying.

Answer right away and speak clearly. Take a deep breath if you feel upset.
Don’t ask for a reason every time or you will be viewed as a complainer.

People will think you are serious about wanting to know a reason if you ask for one calmly. Don’t keep asking for reasons after you receive one. Use what you learn in these situations in the future.

Take some time to plan how you are going to approach the person who told you “No.”

Plan in advance what you are going to say. Accept the answer, ​even if it is still “No.” Be sure to thank the person for listening. At least you had the opportunity to share your opinion.