Whether it’s in the context of work, friendship or organising your own time, saying NO is one of the hardest things to do sometimes.
When someone comes to us with a new piece of work, a chance of socialise, or a need that it is presumed you can meet, the easier response is often YES. Yes I can. Yes I will. Yes I would be happy to. (Even if we don’t really mean it.)
But do we know how to say NO when it really matters? Have we personally mastered the art of balance between, as Austin Kleon expressed — being as generous as you can but selfish enough to get your work done and take care of yourself?
In this episode, Clay and Sarah explore:
* Why it’s hard to say NO – the role of fear, FOMO and self-image
* The difference between saying No to someone and saying No to yourself
* How saying Yes can be a default position & saying No can be a mark of making Conscious choices
* Saying No at work
* Saying No in our relationships
* Why sometimes you have to earn the right to say No by first saying a lot of Yeses
* Questions to ask yourself to get clear about when to say No
* Why saying No to something means saying Yes to something else
Research shows that the more difficulty we have saying No, the more likely we are to experience stress, burn out and even depression. Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t seem to be the way to go…
And yet some many of us (including myself!) find it incredibly difficulty to say No, even when we know we should. Deep down, we are afraid of the other person’s reaction. We’re afraid our boss will get angry or stop seeing us as capable. We’re afraid our friend will feel hurt, rejected, unloved. We’re also often afraid to shut doors in our life…afraid of giving up opportunities in case others don’t come along.
Because of this fear of saying NO, we often default to saying Yes. Yes becomes the easier option, the option that won’t upset the person, the option that makes you feel good about yourself and look good to others.
Yet if we’re not careful, our life can fill up with things other people want us to do. As Tim Ferriss revealed in his article ‘How to say No when it matters most‘, “My agenda became a list of everyone else’s agenda.”
Certainly there are times that we need to say Yes. As Austin Kleon wrote in his article ‘How to graciously say no to anyone’, “Creative people say yes until they have enough work that they can say No.” Success comes from saying yes to almost everything in the beginning. But at some point, we need to start prioritising our activities and clarifying our values. And that’s when it’s important to start saying No.
A great way of deciding that is what Derek Sivers calls the ‘Hell Yeah!’ Meaning, if you’re not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, it should be a No!
And if all this didn’t convince you that learning when and how to say No is an essential life skill, take it from Gandhi, who said “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
Now it’s your turn to join the conversation! Do you find it hard to say No? What circumstances are the most difficult? What do you need to say No to, in order to say Yes to something more important?