Honestly speaking, I am one of those people hardwired to always opt-in. My default setting is people pleasing and I feel guilty when I let someone down. In my dictionary, No, means an uncomfortable thing that doesn’t sit well with me. One of the things I admire about my little cousin is his assertiveness and confidence when saying NO. For as long as I can remember, I hate confrontations and somehow saying no and confrontations have always gone hand in hand.
A friend asks me to go out, a volunteer position and I am asked to lead, date night… you get the gist, I will end up going to avoid making people feel bad. Sometimes these things are opportunities that I think may not knock on my door again and I figure that I would find time to squeeze my other priorities after I am done with this one. So I end up stuck in a situation I loathe all because I am preserving others feelings and running for the opportunities.
Over time, I have realized I am the only one who will suffer and I need to say NO. It’s a full sentence with a full stop at the end, not a comma requiring further explanation. I no longer focus on what I am turning down but what I will be saying yes to (after saying no to whatever is being suggested). Meaning if I say yes to something, I am definitely saying no to another hence looking on the other side is only fair.
Why you need to say no
- It helps you prioritize: You get to have enough time to do what is important in your to-do list.
- It gives you time to breathe: You don’t have to schedule every single minute of your day. Fatigue might catch up with you if you get too busy to take a rest. Recovering from burnout will take more time than taking a break. You can’t do everything no one is superman/wonder woman.
- It wins you respect: If the default word is always yes, people tend to always take advantage of you and know you can always do anything. You need to be able to say YES only to what is right and important to you.
- It does build your self-esteem and confidence.
How to know when you should say NO
Whenever something is requested of you, it is important to ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to do it?
- Are you happy doing it?
- Are there any prior commitments or priorities to fulfil?
- Is time at your disposal?
- Who is requesting you? If roles were reversed, would they support you?
Once you have answered these questions truthfully, you will automatically get your answer. Be authentic to yourself and keep in mind that you need to have fun and give back to others while living your life to the fullest.
Tips to apply when saying No
- Honesty: as it’s often said, the truth will set you free. If you don’t want to go out simply state that you are not up to it.
- Go straight to the point: Don’t bit around the bush wasting people’s time as well as your time using maybe while all along you know you will say no.
- Kindness: There is no need of being rude while saying no. Deliver your message with kindness and people will understand. Don’t burn bridges all in the name of being assertive.
In all honesty, you aren’t expected to give your answer immediately someone asks you to do something. Take a few minutes and think about it. I think I have learnt this from these two beautiful creatures we have. They only responds when they feel it’s right like they are thinking about it and contemplating the pros and cons.
It might seem squeamy at first but hey, practice makes perfect. The temptation to call back or write an apology and say yes after saying no will come knocking the first few time. But hey, be confident in your capacity to make a decision and in evaluating your priorities. With time, saying no will actually feel liberating.