“A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
No. For many, this simple little word is one of the hardest to hear, and even harder to say out loud.
Take a moment to consider your relationship to No. If it helps, visualize this situation: Your manager comes to you with an urgent task that, when added to your existing heavy workload, will have you working late tonight. You had already made important personal plans, perhaps reservations for a long overdue meal with your partner, family or a friend in need. What would you typically do next? (a) Accept the additional task and either cancel (“They’ll understand”) or ‘work around’ your personal plans, or (b) say “No”, declining the work, explaining your rationale and offering to help identify an alternative path forward.
From your response to this scenario, we’d be able to predict all kinds of things about your life. For example, if response (b) strikes you as disrespectful, “career suicide”, sheer lunacy!? then we’d wager you’re also experiencing chronic stress, feeling overworked and undervalued, and not where you’d like to be with the quality of your health and your important relationships. Does any of that sound familiar?
A No is actually an emphatic “Yes” – to yourself, your values and your beliefs. By declining unreasonable work requests, pushing back on unwanted social events or refusing to buy that unnecessary insurance from the pushy salesperson, you are saying “Yes” to you, and “No” to ‘them’.
No allows you to define and defend your boundaries – if you are clear and consistent in those boundaries, you’ll be amazed at how quickly others will come to respect them, and you. A polite, respectful, positive No is therefore empowering, allowing you to take back control of your time and priorities, to increase alignment to your values, and to transform your life and work.