I was proud of my record—more often than not, I’d say “Yes to Requests” when I really meant no.
No to volunteering
No to writing documents for free
No to free babysitting
No to having guests
No to working overtime
No to bad relationships
And a resounding No to any kind of personal and professional time constraints and infringements that cause me to regret saying Yes.
The word No was not in my vocabulary. Oftentimes, we’re conditioned to say Yes because it’s easier than declining a so-called “favor.” Many times I heard myself agreeing to situations where it starts to wear on my nerves. Here’s a case and point:
An acquaintance asked me if I could house sit for a week while they were out of town.
“Sure,” I said without thinking it through thoroughly.
A few day before the trip, the lady calls with a list of demands.
“When you come by, will you bring the mail in?” she asks.
“Okay, no problem.”
The next day, it was more requests.
“Can you water the plants and turn off the lights?”
Silence. I was thinking in both cases, she could take care of those things herself.
When I got to her house, I discovered she left a “To Do List.”
At this point, I was miffed—more at myself because I could have easily said No, in the first place.
Instead, I agreed against my better judgement.
So, I checked on the house as we agreed, and told her No, to anything extra.
I learned the art of saying No by watching and listening to a friend of mine. Betty, is a mother of four, a highly successful supervisor, a caretaker and she’s in a relationship. As one can imagine, she’s pulled in many directions at any given time. She shared with me that at one time, her stress level was really high because she didn’t know how to say no to family/job/relationship commitments. In the end, her health started declining.
“First, I had to realize there’s no harm in saying No and every request doesn’t automatically mean Yes,” Betty said. “These days, I often tell others, I’ll think about it and get back to them. That way, it alleviates stress on me and I weigh the importance of the requests.”
These day, Betty says by saying No, she has made herself a “high priority.” By not committing or “overly committing” she avoids a lot of undue stress, stain and spreading herself thin.
In Shonda Rhimes book “The Year of Saying Yes,” the main theme of her book was unlearning how to stop saying No, to new experiences and No opportunities and No to things that scared her. Most people would think of Rhimes, the creator of such shows as “Greys Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to get away with Murder” wouldn’t have any problems with healthy balance of saying No, to things that were not good for her, like toxic relationships.
Rhimes advises: “Difficult conversations are sometimes necessary for personal growth and for the health of your relationships and the people who love you will want to grow along with you. Learn to say ‘no’ to things and people who are sucking the life out of you. When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘no’ to the bad things becomes so much easier.’’
Whether it’s a relationships or not being able to say “No” to commitments, there are ways to learn to say “No” without feeling guilty, feeling guilty or making up “white lies.” Here’s some tips from Life hack that gives us permission and power to say “No.”
- When you say yes to something you don’t enjoy, you say no to things that you love
- When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to your dreams
- When you say yes to someone you don’t like, you say no to a fulfilling relationship
- When you say yes to working overtime, you say no to your social life.
Saying No sometimes can be a good thing–for yourself and others. Try it!