How To Say NO

The word "no," despite being one of the shortest in the English language, is one of the hardest to say.  It's especially difficult when you're standing in someone's front yard and they're offering you their (potentially) beloved item for a great deal, but you have no desire to buy it.  How can you say no without being a jerk, and how can you avoid the easy way out of just giving in?

A red NO sign

Decide quickly whether or not you're willing to listen to their entire offer.  If so, listen patiently, and then you can pretend to mull over the idea before rejecting it politely.  If not, cut them off right away; tell them you don't want to waste their time, and that you'd like to have a look at their other merchandise instead.

There might be something else at their yard sale you're interested in, and if so, tell them you'd like to talk about a different item.  Direct their attention to an object you're going to make a positive statement about, something you've already spotted as one you'd like to buy.  Use an affirming statement: "You know, I really don't need a new lamp, but I am very interested in your CD collection..."  That way, they aren't left with the lingering sensation of being rejected, but of having the chance to make a different sale.

If they are very persistent, and you feel it would help to do so, explain why you don't need the item they're trying to sell you.  Maybe you just bought a new lamp, or you're looking for a different color or shape for your living room.  Or it might just not fit your tastes, and you can explain what you prefer.  If you're the talkative type, this might just spark up a pleasant conversation, and before long you might find you've made a new friend.  On the other hand, people could get fed up if you stand there and launch into a lengthy (and what they see as needless) explanation for your refusal.  Gauge their attention span before you go into the backstory.

Be firm about your decision.  It's a common tactic of children to badger their parents until the desired answer is gained, and some people never grow out of this and will persist until they get you to say yes.  To avoid this, be firm from the outset: say no and then make it clear you aren't changing your mind.

If they keep pestering you, walk away.  You have no obligation to be there or to listen to their spiel, and if you don't want to hear it anymore, you have every right to get out of there.  Don't let a persistent host ruin your day!

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