How often do you say no to something? You don’t really want to volunteer for another fundraiser, make costumes for the school play. But somehow, you get roped in. You’re a nice person, and saying no means letting people down. Before you know it, you are baking a batch of muffins at midnight. Seriously how hard is it to say no? I find it almost impossible to say no. But we should start getting used to saying no:
- Saying no means prioritising what’s important to you.
Like the time I should not have agreed to take a conference call on my non-working day which meant I meant I missed some of my little girl’s school play. Was it really that urgent? Why didn’t I get a colleague to step in? In my eagerness to please, I didn’t consider these things. A lesson well and truly learned.
- Saying no means less stress
When we say yes to too many things we overcommit and overburden ourselves, this is stressful. And too much stress can wreak havoc with our immune system, running us down and getting us ill.
- Learning to say no means getting used to discomfort
By saying no we create space to do things that really matter to us. But saying no is hard. Ed Batista, coach at Stanford Graduate School of Business says: “Become more comfortable with discomfort.” But it’s worth it!
- Take an economist’s perspective to saying no
I like Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist at the Financial Times insight about saying no, ‘that every time we say “yes” to a request, we are also saying “no” to anything else we might accomplish with the time. It pays to take a moment to think about what those things might be.’
- No needs to be a guilt-free word
Saying no is loaded with so much emotion. Scientific American’s Savvy Psychologist, Ellen Hendriksen PhD, says: “Guilt is an emotion reserved for when you do something wrong. If you hurt someone, it’s appropriate to feel guilty.” You don’t want to bake those cupcakes for the school fair. Ditch the guilt and say no.
- Saying no will simplify your life
Leo Babauta from Zen Habits says: “Say yes to less and simplify your life.“
- No is a power word
I end with the awesome Tina Fey’s musing about the power of no. “Whether it’s writing a pilot for a bad actor or the butter scene in Last Tango in Paris or telling Roger Ailes to put his hamburger meat back in the freezer, feeling like you can say ‘no’ without any negative repercussions is an important kind of power“
And if you are still struggling to say no, then the Oxford English Dictionary Blog has 29 ways of uttering that two letter word.
Photocredit, Steve Snodgrass courtesy of Flickr