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To avoid breaking rapport: replace "no" with "I wish I could" in your answers

Very simple technique.

This has become "standard issue" for me whenever I care about connecting and bonding.

Why would you want to replace "no"?
Because a "no":

  1. Bocks the flow of conversation, leaves nowhere else to go
  2. Communicates "we are different"

When people ask you something, especially if it's in the beginning, they are likely asking you what they like and care about.
When you say "no" you say "we are different", and "I can't / don't want to do what you care about".

Her: How about you, do you cook?
You: I wish I could cook better! I remember my dad, he used to make this wonderful... "spaghetti alla norma" it's called. It's not one of the famous Italian dishes, but it is SO delicious

And with that, instead of breaking rapport, you connected even more deeply with both food and family-related story. Plenty of deep threads to go into from there.

This is also true when people ask you if you speak a local language.
A "no" says "we don't have much in common".
And if you have been somewhere long enough without learning a single word, it says that you didn't care enough to learn the local language. It becomes a rapport breaking, negative power move.

Her: do you speak Korean?
Him: I wish I could! So far I've learned to say "kimchi"

And works for experiences, too:

Him: have you ever gone scuba diving?
Her: I wish I did, but I was too scared (smiles). But tell me, how was it? Were you scared? Did you see a lot of colorful fishes?

Now you even make him feel manlier and give him a chance to brag to you, which actually increases your influence over him (plus, it increases the chances he might want to provide and protect).

Keep the "no" for when you actually want to break rapport

This is from where you want to bond, connect and keep the conversation going.

Otherwise, when you want to make a power statement or when you want to put more distance between you and someone and/or a topic that does not align to your values, a "no" followed by silence will do just fine.

Him: Dude, really? Like you've never cheated on your GF?
Him: No man, I don't cheat.
(let him keep play his "fake suprised game", he is losing power by expanding energies and you're acquiring power with your short and to the point rapport break)


rachel, selffriend and Bel have reacted to this post.
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Keep The "No" For When You Want To Draw Your Boundaries

Based on being assertive and high-power:

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano

  • Say “I don’t”, not “I can’t”

“I can’t” is inherently low-power.

It implies that there are external constraints that stop you from doing what you would like to do.

And it also sounds like excuse-making.
If you have enough power to say it, why not just say “I don’t want to”.

This also applies to self-talk.
People who thought in terms of “I don’t” were far more likely to stick to their own boundaries (Patrick, 2011).

"I wish I could" also seems to imply that you want to but can't.

A good note to insert here might be that when others ask you to do something you don't want to do, avoid responding with:

  • I can't do it
  • I wish I could do it

But, instead, "I don't want to do it".

selffriend has reacted to this post.

Yeah, that was from the assertiveness lesson, right?

It was about being high-power assertive.

Slightly different case.

Keep in mind that when people are asking you those questions in social settings, those are "bids for connection":

  • "can you cook" = they want to talk to you about food, or that they like cooking -or sometimes that they wish you'd cook for them-.
  • "can you speak this local language" = is a way of saying "are you interested in my culture / me" or "can you talk to me in a language I can connect with you even better"
  • "have you ever done X" = "can we talk about doing this thing"?

A strong "no" there blocks the flows of conversation, it's like a social door shut in their face.
And if you say "I don't want", you only shut it more violently.

Is it "high power" to block the flow in those cases?
In a way, yes.
But to overdo it, it's more like the "dickhead" type of power, and can lead to isolation.

Ali Scarlett, selffriend and Bel have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettselffriendBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks for the added note and clarification there, Lucio.

Definitely makes sense in terms of remembering to mix that high-power behavior with warmth. Or, avoid behavior that's too high-power and inherently lacking in warmth altogether to avoid that isolation you mention.

*Edit: And, yes, that was from the assertiveness lesson.

selffriend has reacted to this post.
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