“No” Helps You Recognize Your Limits and Empowers You to Make the Right Choices
Early in my career, I got into the habit of saying an enthusiastic yes to every last-minute request—the meeting request that appeared when I was about to leave the office, with so-called minor changes or enhancements to a product release just a day before. , a coworker asked me to stay back to help them with a production issue or my manager pulled me over to work on a deliverable that is running late.
Initially everything was fine. Being able to help others, put out fires, and share their knowledge and expertise instilled a sense of accomplishment. Knowing that others needed me made me feel important. But all that dopamine hit came at a cost. Soon, these little little ya’s added up, and I was working on weekends and late nights.
Trying to meet your existing commitments while making room for the new ones was bound to be a source of stress and anxiety. I felt tired of accommodating all these requests to an already packed schedule, burnt outand tired.
Still, I didn’t know saying no was an option. What if I said no, and it tarnished my image? What if I was labeled as someone who is not an assistant or a team player? The more I accepted these last-minute requests, the more tied my identity to the one who comes in and saves the day.
Reluctance to break away from this identity only made things worse – trying to please everyone affected my health and personal well-being. What was once a source of joy now felt like a liability – accompanied by feelings of anger, Disappointmentand dissatisfaction.
“Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s necessary. The problem is if you’re constantly saying yes to others, putting their priorities ahead of your own, you won’t have the time or energy to take care of yourself. And you will gradually become irritable, cynical and sad.” – Damon Zahariades
I can’t remember exactly the day I had this moment of success, but I said to myself, “Enough is enough. I can’t live life like this.” It was time for me to shift from a useless yes that governed my life to a healthy number that would empower me.
I was so used to saying yes all the time that it was a bit nerve-wracking to initially decline a request. I was worried about disappointing my boss, upsetting a coworker, and what it would mean to say no to my career.
I understood that many times I had no choice in the matter, most of the time I did. After a little trial-and-error, a lot of practice, and experience, I learned to turn down a request without hurting the other person and keeping the relationship intact.
Like I did, you can too. You can say no to a last-minute request and still look like a player on the team. Simply saying no without an indication of why you’re declining their request is going to frustrate people. But when you do it thoughtfully, most people will understand. For those who don’t, you shouldn’t be bothered anyway.
Here are three steps I followed that made it easier to decide and communicate my NO:
Our biggest obstacle to being able to say no is the emotional part of the brain that associates “no” with the feeling of rejection. Growing up, when our parents said no to our requests—can I watch TV, can I eat candy, can I jump on the bed—we felt strong negative emotions. Automatically, not became a bad word in our dictionary.
We’re all grown up now, but the word “no” in our minds still evokes the same feeling of rejection. It doesn’t matter whether we’re on the receiving end or we’re about to say it, no one brings up the same negative feelings.
As a first step in learning to say no, you need to rewire your mind to avoid something that is not bad, by replacing it with something that is necessary and healthy. Is. You need to feed your brain with new stories – stories where the “no” helps you recognize your limits and gives you the power to make the right choices. Stories Where “No” Helps You keep commitments and build trust. Stories where “no” keeps you from working come with a huge personal cost.
“It’s not our parents’ fault. Or our school’. Or the government. Or our friends’. They have their own issues – no need to blame them. But their stories also need to say yes No. It’s time for us to create our own stories.” – James Altucher
Letting others down by saying no will no longer bring strong negative emotions. Saying no will gradually shift the neural circuits in your brain from avoiding no to hugging it. Instead of being on autopilot and saying yes to everything that comes your way, you’ll learn to make the right choice.
Instead of avoiding hurting others or trying to keep everyone happy, you can double your impact and value by prioritizing your own happiness, personal health, and mental well-being.
Knowing when and why to say no is as important as saying no.
Instead of bowing down to yes or no, use these dimensions to evaluate the request:
- Opportunity: Is this an opportunity that will help you build new skills or master existing skills that are important to your career?
- Interest: Is this something that interests you? What excites you about this opportunity?
- what is the cost cost of taking it – In terms of effort, time required, and how will this affect your current priorities? Understand the scale and scope of the request to determine what kind of commitment it demands.
- Significance: What is the cost of not doing it? How important is it to the individual and the organization?
If your help is needed in an area where you have already contributed many times, the work will not interest you as it requires no learning. Instead of wasting your time doing what you’ve always done before, turn it into an opportunity for someone else on your team.
If it is a high opportunity, high interest, high cost activity, you may want to take it. In this case, don’t try to squeeze it in with your current commitments. Be sure to reach out to the right person (in most cases, your manager) to help you tweak your current priorities and make room for it.
Sometimes, it’s okay to say yes when it’s really important to the other person (like when they’re dealing with a crisis) or of high value to the organization (a bug affecting millions of customers). Be sure to limit the number of such requests you entertain. Don’t classify everything as immediate and important.
Making requests through the right lens will help you optimize your impact and the value you add without compromising your health and personal well-being.
“What you don’t do determines what you can do.” – Timothy Ferriss
Saying that land rights don’t require lengthy explanations – they come across as justifications and often distract and confuse the other person. Instead, be precise. State your reason by being direct, clear and concise – the three elements of good communication.
For example, you can say:
I am not the best person to do this job. may I suggest [xyz] The person who is better suited to help?
I am dealing with a high workload right now and cannot add more to my plate as it will affect my existing commitments. I hope you understand that I cannot help you with this request at this time.
I have a deadline coming up in two days. I am devoting all my time and energy to this. I have to say no to this request.
I can’t attend this meeting because it arrived at the last minute in my calendar. i need this time [xyz], Please go ahead if you can have this meeting without me. If you need my help in specific areas, please send me an email, and I will respond to them as soon as possible.
Be kind and compassionate without appearing cold. Express concern about the problem they are facing, instead of being direct, not blunt. You can say something like, “I know it’s challenging for you right now. I’m so sorry I can’t help it right now.”
using facial expressions that show irritation or reluctant body language bound to make them feel bad. Saying no and being sympathetic won’t make others like you, but there’s a good chance they won’t offend you either – a thoughtful response will likely reduce negative feelings from feelings of rejection.
When you have trouble saying no to last minute requests with worry it might hurt others, remember this from Aziz Ghazipura –
“You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. They are not disabled children. They are adults who can handle their own emotions. They can act out of frustration, hurt, anger, sadness, and upset. In fact, doing so They’ll be stronger and healthier in the long run. You can’t stop others from feeling all the discomfort, or all the pain. It’s an impossible task, an act of fools.”
- Most of us have difficulty saying no to last-minute requests from others because we worry about hurting and disappointing them.
- Trying to be helpful by never saying no doesn’t make you a team player.
- Weekends and nights will get hectic, taking on more work than you can handle. Not being able to meet your commitments will ultimately affect your mental health and personal well-being.
- Saying no is an essential part of maximizing your impact and the value you create.
- Start your brain by accepting that it’s not your job to please everyone. It’s okay to disappoint others.
- Next, evaluate the request on a few key dimensions – opportunity, interest, cost and importance – to determine whether it is appropriate to say yes or to pass it up.
- In the end, giving a thoughtful response goes a long way in ensuring that your message is well received without being arrogant or difficult to work with.
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