“Real freedom is saying 'no' without giving a reason.” ― Amit Kalantri
The power of Yes has gotten a lot of attention. There's a lot to say about it. Yes encourages bravery, risk-taking, and an open-hearted approach to life. Yes is an adventure, new opportunities, almost life in itself. No, on the other hand, is a metal grate that slams shut the window between oneself and the influence of others. Yet saying No to things that are uncomfortable, that steal time, or go against your values is a hidden power that is not easy to master. So let’s re-evaluate the power of No.
How often do you prioritize other people's needs over your own? How often do you deliver less to yourself because you were doing something for someone else? Sadly, humans are used to abusing the positive sides of human nature like kindness, empathy, and compassion. So once we start helping others more than we help ourselves, people get accustomed to us prioritizing their needs and desires over our own and that’s what they expect of us. But you don’t want to be abused because you’re too kind or empathetic. If anything, you want and need to take control of your priorities to protect yourself from being abused and depleted. That’s why it is a must to learn to say No and draw some boundaries.
Of course, we have responsibilities to our loved ones and should be there for them when they need us the most, but we also have responsibilities to ourselves. If we asked people why they don’t say No when they feel like it, the answers would be: I wanted to be helpful, kind, and considerate; I wanted to be there for people when they needed me. I didn't want to let them down, disappoint them, or make them unhappy. And this is just not right because - what about you? Did they think about your wellbeing before asking for help? Everytime we say Yes, while somewhere deep down our inner voice screams No - we lose ourselves.
So when we say No, it should always come from a place of consideration and compassion and never cause harm.
What’s the right way to say No?
As a rule of thumb saying No in an assertive, considerate, and calm manner will do wonders. It is also important not to give many reasons why you’re saying No as doing so will weaken your position. Yet it is okay to apologize for not being able to assist if you feel like it. Simple "I'm sorry, but I don't have the time right now," or "I'm sorry, but I'm not able to help" will do. Simple as that!
And now let’s look at 4 benefits of saying ‘No’:
1. Maintain strong boundaries
Being able to say no without feeling guilty relieves the burden of taking on something you will later regret. By not taking on too much, you can avoid being overwhelmed and burned out. Learning to say no to distractions, email, and social media falls under this category as well.
2. Gain confidence
You gain confidence by not caring about what others think of you and letting go of the urge to please. Most people respect honesty and will not consider it a negative trait.
3. Become more productive
By making decisions based on your own priorities rather than those of others, you will be able to work within your own priorities rather than those of others. You are in charge of your own time.
4. Become genuine
Being open and honest about your goals will allow you to be true to yourself, and others will perceive you as real and sincere. In turn this will help you build more confidence in yourself and become more genuine to yourself and to others.
Learning to say this type of No is hard work, because of a general preconception that No causes negative vibes. The truth is, if said in the right way, No will never cause harm to anyone. At the end of the day remember: when you say No you’re not declining a person, you are refusing a situation that you don’t want to participate in. Although sometimes No can and should be used more often with certain people as discussed in our blog post about toxic people here.
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We practice the power of saying 'NO' in the Self Mentoring Guide along with other topics like embracing failure, taking responsibility, embracing change, trusting your instincts, working on the trustworthiness of yourself and others along with many more topics. Check it out.