The Power of No and When To Say It More @ Work

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When was the last time you felt pressured to say yes to something? Not because you wanted to but because you felt like you had to?

Are you one of those people that has trouble saying no?

You’re not alone. From bosses and coworkers to friends, spouses, children and extended and family, it seems like someone always needs or wants something. Trying to meet the needs and demands of everyone around you can be taxing at best. At worst it can have a major impact on your health.

It feels great being the person who says “yes” and is always the “go-to” person. It makes us feel important, gratified, and maybe even fulfilled. But, what happens when we burn out? What happens when we’ve said “yes” to too much?

Learning to say “no” isn’t easy — we’re taught from an early age that it’s impolite to turn someone down when they make a request. This is especially true in work situations — 62% of employees felt their workload had increased over the prior six months. None of this takes into account the demands you face at home.

In a workplace conflict study, 33% of people said that the conflict in their organizations was due to heavy workloads. Heavy workloads are a fact of life, it seems, but are you taking on too much?

If your answer to this question is “yes”, use the following guide to help you identify situations where it’s okay to decline taking on a task or added responsibility.

1. Who is asking you to take on the responsibility or task? Is it within your usual scope of duties? If not and you don’t have the time or desire to do it, you’re within your rights to decline.

2. If you decline a request, will it create a conflict between you and the other party? You may need to weigh the consequences — some people have a hard time taking “no” for an answer.

3. Do you have the time and/or capacity for taking on additional work? For instance, if you have just worked a 12-hour day and your sister asks you to watch her kids so she can go to yoga class, take care of yourself first. If you don’t feel like you have the energy to babysit after a long day at the office, it’s okay to say “no”.

Learning to say no to those you love or don’t want to disappoint can be difficult at first, but once you get in the habit of taking care of you, you’ll notice a change in not only how much less burdened you feel, but in the way it changes the dynamics between you and those in your circle.


Devin C. Hughes is a highly sought after international speaker, author, diversity & inclusion muse, mindfulness trainer & leadership coach who works with a variety of leaders, groups, organizations, and teams who have a desire to break down enterprise-wide cultural barriers, improve personal/organizational performance and enhance communication through greater self awareness and understanding of one another. He is the author of 17 books and his approach draws from the science of positive psychology, positive organizational research, appreciative inquiry, neuroscience, mindset and mindfulness.

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Keynote Speaker | Mindfulness Maven | Happiness Muse | Author | Diversity & Inclusion Advocate |

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