The choice between these two could not be greater, but — despite what you might have been taught — no is just as important as yes.
Let me explain.
It’s a common misunderstanding that successful people say “yes” to everything. In fact, when we do this, our performance suffers, making it impossible for us to keep on top of everything. In the end, we let everyone down — especially ourselves.
While it’s true that we should jump on opportunities that benefit our long-term goals and provide us with satisfaction — many people confuse this with the idea of saying “yes” to anyone who asks for a favor or presents us with an opportunity. Of course, the reason people like to say “yes” is obvious; it’s the hope that the favor or opportunity will somehow weave itself into their ultimate goals.
But, here is what career counselor Dara Blaine has to say on this subject:
“We live in a ‘yes’ culture, where it’s expected that the person who is going to get ahead is the go-getter who says yes to everything that comes their way. However, it’s when people learn to say no that I’ve really seen their careers take off.”
Why You Should Say No More Often
So why should you become comfortable with saying no?
Well, firstly, when you say “yes” to everyone, your priorities will be shifted away from your own and towards other people’s. You’ll also have a tendency to feel burnt out and stressed because your time is not being allocated as you wish.
And, it gets worse…
By constantly saying “yes”, you won’t have the time or bandwidth to dedicate to things that are important to you (such as your career, hobbies and family). And — despite what you might think — you’ll come across as lacking confidence, as other people will consciously or unconsciously perceive you as someone with low assertiveness when it comes to your own needs and boundaries.
Saying “no” should come easily, right?
You would think so. Yet a lot of people, especially those who identify as people-pleasers, find it very difficult to utter this two-letter word.
But, let me share a secret with you: it’s futile to try and please everyone.
Another factor that stops people (perhaps even yourself) from saying no, is a fear of disappointing others. While this is an understandable fear, remember that you have to take care of yourself; and if you’re overly stressed and tired, you won’t be of much help to those you dedicate your time to.
Outline Your Priorities
Do you know what you need to get done versus what you feel obligated to do?
Think about that question for a moment.
In my experience, it’s vital not to let things go unchecked. Because if you’re trying to juggle TOO MUCH, there’s no way you’re dedicating enough time to the things that need it most — whether this be at work, home or beyond.
If you’re unclear about your priorities, take some time to list all the things you’re currently doing, the things you want to be doing, and the things you are doing.
The most important things will stand out to you, and you’ll quickly be able to think of reasons why these matter to you.
The next step, is to think of other items you’ve committed to — such as volunteering at an event simply because you don’t want to let a casual acquaintance down.
Learning to prioritize effectively can help you become more efficient, save you time and decrease your stress. That’s because, once you know what’s most important, it’s easier to decide where to focus your time and energy.
How to Say No Effectively
So now you know why you should say no and how to prioritize your tasks. The question you might be asking yourself is: “How do I say no?”
The answer can be found in the seven tips below:
1. Be direct, and use phrases such as, “no, I don’t want to” or “no, I can’t.”
2. Don’t feel the need to apologize or to make up reasons for not doing something.
3. It’s better to say “no” at the outset if you can’t or don’t want to do something. This will prevent you from feeling resentful later.
4. Use the power of politeness, by responding, “thanks for asking, but…”
5. Picture yourself saying no. You can do this by running ‘mental movies’ in your mind that show you confidently declining requests for your time or effort. (This will make it much easier to say no in real life.)
6. Avoid saying things like, “let me think about it,” if you already know that you don’t want to do it.
7. Always remember that your self-worth is not dependent on what or how much you do for others.
To really drive home these points, please re-read all of them again before going any further.
Now, you don’t have to adopt all seven tips, but you’ll probably want to adopt at least two or three. By doing this, you’ll gain the emotional and mental strength to take back control of your life.
When you think you’re being taken advantage of — you’ll say no. And when you’re being asked to do things that will distract you from your priority tasks — you’ll also say no.
“No” is an incredibly powerful word that can cut through the dross in your life. And, once your start regularly using this word; your confidence will soar, and you’ll put your life on a new trajectory.