Do you have difficulty saying no to people? We are all placed in positions where one person asks something of you. It could be a request for your money, or your time, the team’s time, a work reference or merely an introduction to a colleague.
It is understandable if you struggle to say no sometimes, as social animals we are hardwired to please and seek validation in a group. We learned that saying no was impolite or inappropriate as children. Most of us seek the approval of others and doing a favour for someone is a quick shortcut to being liked, however there is a distinction between being liked and respected.
We feel that magnetic pull to please and be liked and yet we know we cannot do everything.To avoid offence we have manufactured an unspoken social lexicon of yes but no phrases to maintain the pretence.
- Let me think about it.
- I would love to but I can’t
- I can’t go out to that work thing because [insert excuse]
- I would love to but, my boss would not like it if I did that
- OK I will try and have a look at it
- OK let me look at it
These excuses or part agreements are known on both sides as lies. They are just seen as societal makeup to hide our true intentions. This on the surface looks to be acceptable and we all have come to tolerate and even encourage this in some ways. Unless you do a task with 100% intent, the yes or part agreement becomes rust on the blade of friendships, teamwork, employee relationships and even your own familial ones. We maintain the surface level relationships but the relationship is tarnished and forever marked, though we all continue none the wiser.
Live your life for you not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself~Sonya Parker
A part yes agreement or making a socially acceptable excuse is rust on the blade. It prevents the requester from finding genuine committed help. It sends a signal to your team that you don’t truly believe in the priorities you have agreed together. It signals micro weakness in your character which will be exploited by your team and colleagues for years to come. Just as important it says you don’t have the self care priorities clear enough and you bending to another degrades yourself in your eyes. You lose self respect.
So what can we do about it, moving from the nice guy to the no guy can be pretty jarring and the journey to self awareness takes time.
Saying no, the journey
- Start with saying NO to yourself; no to time wasting, no to procrastination, no to asking the same favours of others
- Then start turning your sentences from I can’t into I won’t or I don’t.
- “I can’t go out tonight I have too much work on” becomes “I don’t go out midweek as I want to be full of energy for tomorrows presentation”
- Don’t apologize or give reasons and don’t lie. by all means be polite; “Thanks for asking”
- Don’t say, “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.
- Never say no twice if you mean it
No is a complete sentence. A Verb, A noun, its own subject matterMe just now
You can be a good person with kind heart and still say no. Lastly, remember we started this journey because that your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for other people.