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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics


Jul 27, 2023

Dr. Vanessa Patrick, a respected marketing professor at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business, is revered for her notable research on the psychology of saying no. This research acts as the foundation of her book, The Power of Saying No. The seemingly simple act can be a strenuous inner struggle, but Vanessa insists it's an essential skill for preserving personal dignity and establishing a balanced life. Understanding the psychology behind our hesitance to refuse can liberate individuals from overcommitment and enable them to set healthier boundaries.

In her conversation with Melina Palmer, Vanessa articulated that the challenge of saying no often stems from our fear of negatively impacting relationships or tarnishing our reputation. However, people's constant attempt to please others leads them to become a pushover, gradually erasing their individuality. Vanessa conveyed that saying no (using her method of empowered refusal) allows you to not just create and uphold your unique identity but also to avoid turning into a person who mindlessly accepts every request.

In this episode:

  • Discover the influence of saying no and how it enhances the quality of relationships and life.
  • Learn actionable strategies to establish personal boundaries and become uncompromisingly committed to them.
  • Recognize the primary function of personal motivations and beliefs in setting energized refusal.
  • Grasp the dilemma of saying no in contrasting situations and the art of diluting social pressure.
  • Acquaint yourself with the principle of opportunity cost and its immense relevance to making mindful trade-offs.

Show Notes:

00:00:00 - Introduction,
Dr. Vanessa Patrick is the author of The Power of Saying No and a professor of marketing. Her research focuses on understanding why people struggle with saying no and the importance of setting boundaries. In this episode, she discusses the dual drivers behind saying yes when we want to say no.

00:05:39 - The Fear of Saying No,
Dr. Patrick explains that the fear of saying no stems from our desire to be liked and our concern for our reputation. We often say yes to maintain relationships and be seen as competent. However, saying no strategically can actually help us develop our unique skills and be known for our expertise.

00:07:50 - The Motivation Behind Studying Saying No,
Dr. Patrick shares that her initial research focused on self-discipline and resisting temptation through self-talk. After publishing her findings, she realized the widespread struggle with saying no and the importance of understanding how to say no effectively. This led her to further explore the topic and eventually write her book.

00:11:25 - The Power of "Don't" vs. "Can't"
Dr. Patrick introduces the concept of using "don't" instead of "can't" when saying no. By saying "I don't" instead of "I can't," we appear more empowered and in control. This small shift in language can make a significant difference in how others perceive our refusal.

00:16:05 - Building Personal Policies,
Vanessa Patrick discusses the importance of reflecting on our beliefs and values to establish personal policies that guide our actions and decisions. These policies, similar to mental budgets, help us stick to our desired goals and make it easier to say no in various situations.

00:18:04 - Being the "Kind of Person" Who Says No,
Vanessa emphasizes the power of framing our decisions as reflections of our identity. By saying "I'm the kind of person who..." we can effectively communicate our boundaries and say no more effectively.

00:19:26 - Navigating Asks in the Workplace,
Vanessa provides a framework for deciphering asks in the workplace. She distinguishes between urgent and important tasks that require immediate action, and non-promotable tasks that may distract from our main responsibilities. She highlights the importance of balancing participation in non-promotable tasks and ensuring fairness in task distribution.

00:23:24 - Finding Value in Non-Promotable Tasks,
Vanessa acknowledges that some individuals may find value in non-promotable tasks, such as party planning, as it aligns with their personal interests or provides visibility. However, she encourages individuals to ensure they are not solely responsible for these tasks and to create an environment where everyone's strengths are leveraged.

00:27:28 - Reframing Saying No,
Vanessa reminds us that saying no is not a rejection of the person making the request, but a refusal of the ask. By reframing our mindset, saying no can become much easier.

00:32:25 - Is It A Salt or Lasagna Ask?,
Vanessa explains the concept of "pass the salt" asks, which are easy and low-cost requests that can have a high benefit for the person asking. She also introduces the idea of "bake your famous lasagna" asks, which are requests that are costly for the person asked but have no real impact. Vanessa emphasizes the importance of saying no to these types of asks and prioritizing the "Hero's Journey" asks that make a difference in the world.

00:35:13 - Opportunity Cost and Saying No,
Vanessa discusses the concept of opportunity cost and how every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to other opportunities. She highlights the need to intentionally consider the opportunity cost of our decisions and the importance of saying no to things that don't align with our values and goals.

00:37:10 - The (Non)Selfishness of Saying No,
Vanessa challenges the notion that saying no is selfish, explaining that it is actually selfish for someone to ask us to do something that doesn't matter to us or leverage our strengths. She encourages individuals to recognize their right to say no and not feel guilty about it.

00:38:02 - Tips and Resources for Saying No,
Melina mentions that Vanessa's book provides valuable tips and strategies for saying no, especially in different situations such as with bosses. Vanessa emphasizes the power of an empowered refusal, which effectively conveys your stance based on your values and priorities. She encourages individuals to own their no's and not make excuses or be wishy washy -- own those nos!

00:39:04 - Conclusion,
Melina's top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media -- you'll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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