The Power of “No” @ Work

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How many times do you find yourself saying “yes” when you really want to say no? For some of us we do it several times a week or maybe even several times a day — why in the world is so difficult to say such a small word?

Many times, we may think that if we say “no” we are coming across as selfish or uncaring. Maybe we fear that it will cause criticism or being disliked, or we may even think saying “no” could put us in the position of losing our jobs or our friendships. Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.

Are You a “Yes-Man”?

From bosses and coworkers to friends, spouses, children and extended family, it seems like someone always needs or wants something. You feel like you are getting pulled in a hundred different directions all at once. Trying to meet the needs and demands of everyone around you is no easy chore! And worse, it can have a major impact on your health.

Sure, 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. Think there is no harm in always saying “yes”? Think again.

Just Say No

NO. It is that easy. When you find yourself always saying “yes” you are committing to things that you just can’t do for whatever reason — let’s face it none of us can add more hours to the day.

A common mistake we sometimes will make is using measly phrases such as, “I am not sure” or, “I might be able to”. These phrases not only hold ZERO power — they can be interpreted as you might say “yes”. Use the power of NO when appropriate — don’t be afraid.

How to Say No

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 — a whopping 62% of employees felt their workload had increased over the prior six months! And that is only at work alone — let’s not even get started about 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”. After all, does your sister really want you watching her kids while you are glued to her couch and her kids are giving each other haircuts? She WILL understand.

Remember — saying no is does not automatically mean you are a selfish human being. Quite the opposite — when you say no to a new obligation you are honoring your existing commitments and making sure you give them the time and the quality they deserve.

A crucial part of taking care of your family and friends is taking care of yourself first. This can be done by learning to say “no” to those you love or don’t want to disappoint. It will be difficult at first but by doing this you will 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. And guess what — they will notice the positive difference too!

Be good to yourself and learn your limits for a happier and healthier you!

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

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