While we’re on the topic of honesty, politeness, and me repeating myself, when I was writing my first book I invented the NotSorry Method, a two-step strategy for figuring out what you don’t give a fuck (i.e., care) about and then no longer giving your fucks (in the form of your time, energy, and money) to those things. SPOILER ALERT: it’s just more mental decluttering, but this method’s kicky name comes from how you feel when you’ve successfully completed it, using – you guessed it – honesty and politeness to make your decision and carry it out.
Well, Sarah Knight is here to put a stop to our over-committing tendencies. In her new book, F**k No!: How to stop saying yes, when you can’t, you shouldn’t, or you just don’t want to, the author discusses the importance of saying no and how to do it. Night in for one, anyone?
You’ve done nothing wrong, so you have nothing to feel guilty about: you are “not sorry.” When it comes to not giving a fuck, I stand by NotSorry a million percent. However, you will notice that throughout this book, I often suggest throwing an “I’m sorry” into the mix when delivering your no. That’s not because I think you should feel guilty about your response. It’s purely procedural.
How so? Because saying an active no to something is more than just passively not giving a fuck (i.e., not caring) about that thing. If you don’t give a fuck about, say, Iceland, you also don’t have to work up the balls to say no to Iceland. Iceland will never know if you decide not to set foot in its steamy, mineral-rich lagoons. You’re off the hook! Whereas other situations will require clear written or verbal no’s, the likes of which I’m here to help you compose HONESTLY AND POLITELY. So with regard to saying – if not always being – sorry, here’s my two krónur:
Sometimes you will care quite a bit about the person, thing, or opportunity that you still can’t or shouldn’t say yes to. You ARE sorry! Might as well be honest about it.
Even if you don’t really care, apologizing is like lube; it reduces friction and makes things easier and more pleasant for both parties. Be polite, take the high road, and express your regrets. (Careful though, the high road is slippery.)
If you find feigning sincerity a bit of a drag, think of your “Sorry” as applicable to a different aspect of your no than the recipient might presume. Like maybe you’re not actually sorry that you can’t blow zillions of dollars and most of your self- respect going to your friends’ vow- renewal ceremony at Coachella, but you are sorry that saying no means you may never see what ’s abs look like in person. Same difference.
With all of the preceding No Theory in mind, we’re inching ever closer to unleashing your skills on other people in part II: How to say no to pretty much anything. Are you nervous? Don’t be! I understand that for no-vices such as yourself, saying no to those you care about or on whom you depend to make a living might still seem daunting. So before we go full- tilt boogie on moms, dads, sisters, brothers, bosses, and besties, I’m going to lob out a few softballs to get your head in the game.
From proselytizers to small-talkers to bartenders, salespeople, and neighbors, we’ll practice polite but firm declines on those to whom you can say nei* without ruining valued relationships or disrupting
any delicate power dynamics.
* Much like I’m #NotSorry about exploiting a popular extant hashtag for my own personal gain.
Thanks so much!
“Thanks” or iterations thereof (e.g., “I really appreciate it” or “It’s so kind of you to think of me”) may not appear in each and every sample response throughout Fuck No!, but that’s because I’m trying to keep it
spicy and also I shouldn’t have to tell you to say thank you every time the opportunity arises. Who raised you? A little gratitude goes a long way toward maintaining friendships and mollifying moms who were really hoping you’d be available to be the fourth for bridge this week with the girls. Oh, thanks so much for asking, but I’ve got something that night. Hi to Dad!