In general, English people are very polite and find it hard to be direct and say no. Even when they are thinking “definitely not”! There’s a lot of “Sounds good; I’ll let you know. Thanks for inviting me…”
To make things “worse”, in Spain there’s a big culture of life “en la calle” (outside). If someone asks you to go for a “Cervezita” (little beer) with them, it’s normal to think “why not?”, grab your things and go.
The weather’s usually so gorgeous here, it seems a shame to be inside. There’s also a culture of “me apunto!” (I’ll be there) – when you’re not even sure you can make it or not, just to be in the spirit of “up for everything”.…
Thus, between my very English upbringing and my last few years in Spain, I’ve recently realized that I find it REALLY hard to say no.
What happens when we say “yes”, when really we mean “no”? Apart from it damaging our self-esteem, it means we often take on too many commitments, and we have to cancel on people; to let them down . This also affects our relationships with other people, as they stop trusting us 100%.
In the process we get frustrated because we don’t end up doing what we originally wanted. We have the feeling that the circumstances manage us rather than the other way round; that we’re not responsible for what happens to us.
This doesn’t mean going to the other extreme and having no flexibility and sponataneity; The key is to be connected to what you want in every moment.
Therefore, if I fancy the cervezita (or the plan, the project etc) then it’s “YESS” and on my way with a smile. Yet, when I don’t want to, I’m learning to simply say “no, thanks”, without feeling I have to justify why.