Are you the type of person who feels guilty saying “no”? Sure … it’s easy to bow to everyone’s wishes, say “yes” to their requests for help, or follow the crowd. But you’re not doing yourself any favors by avoiding the forbidden word. In fact, there are definite times when saying “yes” is a no-no.
Every choice you make is like a seesaw, whereby saying “yes” to one thing results in forgoing something else. For example, if you’re helping someone address his or her priorities, you’re not tending to your own. That’s fine if you’re conscious of the costs and comfortable with the consequences of your decision, but many people don’t focus on the price that they pay. Here are some tradeoffs that we face each day. Is “no” in your vocabulary?
Are You a Yes-Man (or Woman)?
Focus. If you try to be good at everything, you’ll end up being mediocre at everything. So be careful to choose where you want to excel.
Resource allocation. Spending time and money on unimportant stuff often forces you to say “no” to things that matter. So concentrate your resources rather than making across-the-board decisions.
Priorities. When you’re hijacked by other people’s priorities, you don’t have time to tackle your own. So make your priorities a priority.
Self-respect. When you constantly seek approval, you give more weight to another person’s opinion than to your own. So take ownership of your life decisions rather than relinquishing that responsibility to others.
Balance. When you’re constantly on the run, you don’t have time to smell the roses. So don’t try to fill your calendar each day. Happiness is a result of balance rather than intensity.
Personal values. When you succumb to peer pressure, you may live to regret your actions. So hold firm to your beliefs and values.
Happiness. When you spend more time doing have-to’s rather than want-to’s, other people’s happiness becomes more important than your own. So make it a habit to say “no” every once in a while –– before you become resentful.
Attitude. When you allow negative and unethical people to pollute your thoughts, you’re forced to carry a heavy load. So carefully choose the people with whom you associate.
Productivity. Just because some people waste their time doesn’t entitle them to waste yours. So know when to say you have to pass.
Shortcuts. Get-rich-quick schemes rarely pan out in the long run. So don’t allow yourself to be talked into every harebrained idea.
Appetite. If you always focus on what you don’t have, you’ll never be satisfied. So be grateful for the things you do have in your life and stop being obsessed with more.
Conscience. Never let anyone tempt you to compromise your integrity. So listen to your conscience. That’s why you have one.
The bottom line is that saying “NO” is a no-brainer!
Say Yes to No
Some people feel that saying “yes” is kind, polite, and fair. Others feel it’s easy, less confrontational, or that they’re following the path of least resistance.
The reality, however, may be contrary to conventional wisdom. Just think … you have time for everyone, except the people you care for most; you have to stay late because you were helping everyone else do their work; you try to keep everyone happy, even though it’s making you miserable; you agree to go out every night, even though you’re close to exhaustion. No. … Enough!
I know you want to be kind. I know you don’t want to let people down. But think about the consequences. What do you gain by making time for others, but none for yourself; becoming wildly successful, but having no time to enjoy it; listening to other’s opinions, but rarely your own; working your heart out, but having nothing to show for it; following the crowd, but then feeling guilty for lowering your standards. Does that sound reasonable? “NO WAY,” you say! So then — know when to say no, and begin saying it.
Make Time: There’s No Dress Rehearsal in Life
Dilemma: Have to vs. Want To
The Choice is Yours
It’s Time to Sweat the Big Stuff
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Linda Ellis says
You never cease to inspire me!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thanks so much, Linda. I’m glad you like them. As you say, “I’m Living My Dash.”
Kyle High says
Frank Sonnenberg, all of your posts are very inspiring and contain great wisdom. I always enjoy reading your posts and would like to say thank you very much for your leading and guidance online.
When you (I mean everyone) say yes all the times, some bad and mean people will take advantage of you and bully you; they don’t see your niceness and your helpfulness are precious. They don’t treasure your kindness. They think that is your obligation to them. They will step on you and use you until you feel very tired or worn out. Then one day you wake up and learn to say no. And that’s the time they hate you. Even your “friend” dislikes you because she cannot use you anymore. Your leader says you are insubordinate.
It is very important that you need to keep balance of your own needs and others. You need to stand up for yourself. You can be nice, strong and smart/intelligent at the same time. And people really respect you for that.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thanks for your kind words Kyle.
You’re right. Unfortunately, some folks take advantage of nice people. Given that, there’s a fine line between being a giving person and a doormat. That’s why it’s important to do things for others simply for the pleasure it gives us. It’s also important to keep our priorities in focus, respect our personal values, and follow our conscience.
Given these guideposts my philosophy is best summarized by Bernard Baruch who said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Have an awesome day!
Anita Stout says
Learning to say no has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned. I was a relentless people pleaser for a great deal of my life – a very stressful and frustrated stretch. Then I realized I wasn’t the center of the universe and there were lots of other competent people who may even do a better job if given the chance. I have a new policy that works well for me: If I can’t say yes with passion I say no without apology. That lets me do gladly what I agree to do and leaves the opportunity for someone else to share in the blessings of also doing something gladly.
Great post on an important topic!
Frank Sonnenberg says
I always look forward to your comments and blog posts. You are so wise 🙂
“If I can’t say yes with passion, I say no without apology.” Great advice!
Thanks so much for sharing.