Initially I was going to write this blog post about my friends and family, but this blog post is as much about me as it is about people around me at the moment. It appears like everyone around me, including me has forgotten how to say two simple letters with authority and meaning. Yep, No isn’t easy these days.
The funny thing is when I was younger (like kid younger) I had no problem saying no, nor do my kids. Teenagers have got it down pat with their parents; they are able to say it a million different ways. Something happens between teenager and adult where we lose this word from our vocabulary.
As we become adults we lose the skill of saying NO. As girls and women, we have been culturally socialised to be ‘people pleasers’ and ‘nurturers’. Things are changing for girls today thankfully, but when I was a girl some of my strongest memories are about wanting to say no but thinking I should say yes, only not to be considered impolite. I was told by many to be a good little lady, don’t be rude by rejecting someone’s offer, whatever that may be. I never heard anyone say to me, ‘you don’t have to kiss aunty so and so if you don’t want to, especially since she has whiskers’.
We end up finding ourselves in a situation where, YES seems to be the only choice and we become resentful, angry and frustrated. We find ourselves overworked, overplayed, overtired and over it all. We try to quietly retreat, but with social media and technology people appear to have 24/7 access to us. But do they? Or do we allow 24/7 access for a reason.
If we keep saying yes despite it being detrimental to us then we must be getting something out of it. What’s the pay-off for us?
Saying yes sir, no problem, any time and ok, basically strokes our ego, we like to think people need us, find us attractive, want our company and want our expertise. We like to think we are invincible in the world that no one can do our jobs better than we can; that no one can please better than we can and no one can be more available then we can.
We also submit to yes all the time because we want to please, we want to put other’s needs before our own and avoid confrontation. This is ok some times, but not all the time. What this behaviour does is reinforce we are not worthy; we don’t value ourselves enough to stay true to our own values and needs. Somebody misses out when you say yes all the time and that somebody is you. You miss out on actually saying yes because you want to. I for one have continually struggled to know my worth in the workplace, and as a result, I would prefer to accept what is given in pay negotiations even though I know I’m probably worth much more. Strangely I fear offending my employer more than offending myself and my family.
The benefits of saying yes all the time don’t outweigh the dis-benefits on our mental health. Being stressed and ‘over it’, means the people closest to us, the ones who actually love us, don’t get the best of us; they get what’s left over which isn’t enough. As a working mum I am aware of this all the time and try hard to get the balance right only to fall into old traps again and again. So how do I turn things around in 2016? Well it’s probably as always to start with myself as the guinea pig.
Here are six ways to say no by being assertive in 2016; I will let you know how it goes.
- No thanks – don’t sign off with hugs, sorry or xx, just simply say it.
- No – It’s a complete sentence.
- I cannot attend, thank you for the invitation.
- Nope or nah – slang is always good with friends.
- Not on your life Nelly! –Use this one or a version of it, when the invitation does not fit with your own values. Like if I was asked to join Tony Abbott’s resurgence fan club.
- Thumbs down –If you’re more of a visual communicator of course.