Does saying no leave you with a nagging feeling of not having done the right thing? It may be so because of our inbuilt psychological need to be perceived as agreeable, pleasant and a social being. Saying yes when we know we do not want to follow it through, is actually more undesirable than saying no. Saying yes just to keep our options open doesn’t necessarily reflect positively on our attitude or willingness to put in effort. It can actually harm the quality of our work or question our ability to accomplish something effectively.
As Paulo Coelho puts it succinctly ” Scars are necessary when we fight against Absolute Evil, or when we have to say “no” to all those who, sometimes with the best of intentions, try to impede our journey towards dreams.” Learning to control our emotions or inner voice while saying no is very important. Self-doubt is good and so we need to believe in the reasons ourselves first for saying no. It keeps things in perspective.
Saying NO the right way
For the right reason:
We have to train ourselves to say no at the right time and for the right reasons. Practicing saying no doesn’t mean scattering negations left and right or using it as an excuse for not being sincere enough with our work. We have to try and strike the perfect balance between saying yes and saying no. Too much negations can give the semblance of a negative personality, being egoistic or simply lazy. Our reasons should be clear and well…reasonable.
You can use saying no to demarcate your personal boundaries and how much you are willing to do professionally, avoiding overload mode, to preserve your peace of mind and quality of life, et al. This requires premeditation and chalking out a list of your priorities, limitations and having a clear idea of what and how much you want to agree to things in your life.
At the right time:
Not only saying no for the right reason, but at the right time is also very important. It is never done to agree with something just to be pleasant and then make it a practice to revert with a negation later on. To keep up your reputation of reliability and trustworthiness, it is important to stand by your words. When faced with situations where you are not sure, take time to think it out. Slow down the urgency of the requester and justify the yes or no to yourself before committing to it. These will soften down the discomfort of self-doubt.
Body language and tone:
Saying no clearly and decisively is important, else it just adds to the confusion. Offering round-about negatives or side-stepping the need to answer doesn’t offer positive benefits. Adding a succinct sentence or two behind your reason for saying no can make it simpler for you and also for the other person. A crisp no doesn’t generally work as well as one showing the reason and a bit of respect for the requester. Also, once over a period of time you have created known boundaries, a simple non-aggressive ‘no’ would become enough.
Your body language and attitude are also crucial while saying no. The idea is not to belittle or embarrass the other person. Try to project a non-aggressive, assertive and calm attitude as much as possible to make it easier for you and the other person involved.
No matter how insistent the other person is, once having said no, you have to learn to stick with it. Because if you give in once, it will be a green light to others that your no is negotiable. If you are sure of your reasons for saying no, it becomes much easier to overcome sprouting self-doubt when the other person gets super insistent, tries to steamroll over you or starts putting words in your mouth.
It is tough the first few times, but gets easier with practice as you know what to expect and how to firmly stick by your words without getting all worked up. Follow-through is as important as saying no at the right time.
Be ready and practice:
Have some rules set for saying no in professional and personal life. It is important to thresh out the reasons with yourself beforehand to avoid self-doubt, timely negations and holding your stand with pushy negotiators. However, it is easier said than done. Like other skills, this also takes practice and experience to carry off effortlessly and successfully.
Making it a way of life requires daily practice starting at saying no to yourself. While making a list of tasks for the day, be sincere with yourself as to how much you can truly accomplish in a day without your professional and personal time bleeding into one another. Ticking all the check boxes on the list at the end of the day with time to spare for relaxation and unwinding will offer subconscious positive reinforcement when saying no to others.
In the first part Why Saying No is an Important Life Skill, we explored how saying no can improve the quality of our work and life. But getting the best results requires premeditation, self-assurance and practice. Saying no is a powerful tool. Using it the right way and for right reasons is the secret to getting the best out of your life.
Does saying no come naturally to you? What was the major factor holding you back from saying no when you would have preferred most to?
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