Being prepared to say No allows you to have a three-stage approach when faced with typical upsetting situations.
Situations where you are put on the spot, put down or caught off guard. Under today’s pressure people often put others down to make themselves feel good. It’s a tiring pursuit because nothing good will ever come of it.
As an actor you may find yourself in recurring situations where you are the brunt of these put downs. A three-step, learned response can help keep you stable.
The family dinner over a holiday could be such a situation. Every year the ‘uncle’ asks you what movies you’ve been in. For many reasons you might not like his question but haven’t figured out yet how to deal with it.
You might want to blurt out ‘Leave me alone!’ but that would disrupt the dinner and make you look like the bad guy. Or you might want to try and slough it off with ‘Whatever.’ but that leaves you open to further questioning.
If your uncle enjoys putting you on the spot and proving how stupid it is that you’re an actor then he’s not going to give up easily. When someone wants blood he’ll often keep going until he gets it.
A thought out three-step response that you like can minimize the chance of blood being spilt.
It could go something like this:
Uncle: ‘So, what movies have you been in lately?’
You: ‘My work is going well and I like being an actor just like you like being a dentist.’
(This is a positive answer that is also true so you’re not out on a limb saying something that you can’t stand behind. It also includes him; showing that you both work and like your work.)
Uncle: ‘Ya, sure, but what Hollywood movies that we can see?’
(He won’t let up.)
You: ‘I’m fine.’
(This short response should give him a signal that you don’t want to pursue this discussion. If you say it simply and give him a look that says ‘that’s enough’ most ‘uncles’ will get it.)
Uncle: ‘You’ve been acting all these years and I’ve never seen you in a movie!’
(He didn’t get it so that’s his third strike and now you’re going to put him out.)
You: ‘I’ve made it clear I don’t like your questions. Let’s leave it and enjoy our dinner! Thanks.’
(The last statement may include: ‘no, stop it, enough, shut up, go away, leave me alone’ etc.)
Having a plan that you’ve thought through and that you like will give you the confidence to say No.