I have written previously about saying “no”. Actually resolving to say no is the first step, but what do you do when the other person won’t hear it? You might be JADE-ing.
There are of course times when saying “no” isn’t appropriate – e.g. to a policeman, your boss, or to someone who is asking you to stop doing something that causes them harm. This article is not about those times!
I have previously linked to this excellent article on how any why you might say no. However, I’m sure we have all been in situations where, for example, “I’m sorry, I’m busy” doesn’t work.
At that point, it is tempting to start JADE-ing.
J – Justify
A – Argue
D – Defend
E – Explain
JADE-ing is when we come up with various reasons why we want to, need to, or choose to say “no”.
With friends who care about us, it’s not so much of a problem – we want to soften the “no”, to avoid hurting them or our relationship. The problem arises when we are faced with someone who cannot or doesn’t want to accept our “no”, who hurts us with their demands.
In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker says, “‘No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you… Declining to hear ‘no’ is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it.”
When faced with this situation, JADE-ing doesn’t help. Giving reasons or explanations, defending your choice or arguing with the person hands them more opportunities to not hear your “no”. Offering up information as to why you are saying no enables them to provide ways round it. It’s as though you are saying “yes, but…”, and asking them to find ways to make it happen. It’s easy to think they will understand your point of view if you just explain it to them. Unfortunately, that is only true if they are actually interested in your point of view – and they might not be.
JADE-ing can be exhausting, and doesn’t actually get you any further than just saying “no” does. It can even make it worse, as someone without your best interests at heart might then turn the situation round and insist you are the one causing the problem.
JADE-ing is a habit we can so easily fall into. We can even end up JADE-ing ourselves! Saying “no” can be an act of self-care, but when we are used to putting the needs of others first that we end up working really hard to convince ourselves of that. It’s okay to say, “because I feel like it”.
So how can you tell if you are JADE-ing? You might feel confused, uncertain, scared, or attacked. You might find yourself struggling to find the ‘right’ words, going round in circles or off the subject. The other person might start making accusations, becoming aggressive or otherwise escalating their demands.
Stopping JADE-ing and saying “no” outright might cause some ruffled feathers for a while. There may be various consequences, such as changes in or even endings of relationships. Only you can decide if you are able to accept those consequences. Where do you want it to end? Can you stop JADE-ing?