#219 - Saying "no" can be hard to do, but well worth learning

Have you ever said yes to someone and truly wished you had said no? Have you ever been asked to be on a committee, take on an extra project at work, or even go out to dinner with friends when you really didn’t have the time?

I think most of us go through this from time to time. The question is why do we put ourselves through this?

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If you think about it, at one time you were great at saying no! You were about age two or three and you had no problem saying no. LOL That was a rebellious reply though. You were trying to exercise your independence long before you were ready to be responsible for yourself.

Over time though, that courage or more accurately, defiance, you display is corralled in order for you to be more compliant. As an adult, though, being too compliant creates its own problems.

The key is to understand that you have to look after you. If you don’t have time to work on a project, be a part of a committee, or go out with friends for dinner, it’s okay to say no.

Most people will understand and be gracious about it and move on. You, on the other hand, will be feeling guilty, as though you let someone down.

The question you have to ask is; Why do I feel guilty?
For most of us, the problem is that we don’t want to let others down. We’re afraid that if we say “No” that they’ll get upset with us and may not even like us anymore. Or, at the very least, it might be a fear of missing out on something.

The reality is that most of these thoughts are only in our heads. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself before saying yes.

Do I have the time?

Is it something I really would like to do or would I just be doing it to satisfy someone else?

Understand and respect “No” as and answer.
We all deal with people that just can’t take “No” for an answer. We typically think of the high-pressure sales tactics of telemarketers.

And then there’s our children when they were small. How many times did you have to fight with your children to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, stop jumping in mud puddles, share a toy, clean their room, or go someplace they didn’t want to go?

If you’re like me, there were way too many battles to count! And just like you and I, they grew up and didn’t say no as often. Then somewhere along the line, as adults, we forget how to say no.

There does come a point where you need to learn to say “No” again. It’s not a big word. It’s not hard to pronounce. But, because of the way we are raised in our society, “No” has a negative connotation.

Learn to set personal boundaries.
One of the great benefits of being able to say “No” is that you establish personal boundaries. All to often we say “Yes” because we don’t want someone to be upset with us, or worse yet, not like us.

It’s important to remember that you teach people how to treat you. When you say yes to almost everything, you teach people that you can be taken advantage of, that your time is more valuable to them than it is to you.

When you say “No”, you’re telling others that your boundaries are important to you.

You have to recognize that you have value. Whether we’re talking about work relationships, friendships, or romantic relationships, you have value. You shouldn’t be a doormat for anyone and everyone to walk on.

It can be very uncomfortable at first to reclaim your ability to say “No”. You can be polite but remain firm in your answer.

If you’d like to learn more about setting boundaries and saying “No”, check out the books Boundaries and Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

I hope today’s topic is helpful. Join me next week for The power is in your Must Have list.

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