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Why saying no is a good thing

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Taylor, (my then 16 year old) will you please watch the neighbors kid next weekend while her parents go out to dinner? I told them I’d ask you but I didn’t think you would mind. “No thank you Pops” You should have seen the reaction on my face. I was quite shocked maybe even a little confused. “Excuse me? What do you mean no? It’s an opportunity for you to make some extra money, plus it would be doing them a favor.” “Pops, I’m sorry but that little girl is bad and I also have things I want to do next weekend. I’m sorry but no thank you.” What in the... My baby girl done told me no. Well, I had a choice. I could do two things, I could “make” her watch the neighbors, not so well behaved daughter or I could “respect” her wishes and show her that it’s ok to say no. That her feelings and putting her own sanity first actually mattered and teach her that saying no is ok.

At an early age we learn that putting others feelings in front of our own is “the right” thing to do. Disregard how you feel or what you want and suck it up. We don’t want to come across as mean or we don’t want to hurt feelings. We do this over and over and over until some of us end up getting walked all over and what we want doesn’t even matter any more because we are so busy saying “yes” to things we really don’t want to do.

Saying no is actually an indication of respect for yourself and the other person. You’re being authentic and most importantly you’re being honest. It’s not always easy . Not at all actually because again, we have been programmed to say yes and to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes even made to do it with a smile on our face.

Think about the 4 or 5 year old that for whatever reason doesn’t want to give his or her auntie a hug. What do we do? We literally make them do it anyway. They can be crying, kicking and screaming yet we still say things to them like “That was rude, you hurt aunt Joyce’s feelings” but what are we really teaching that child? That even if you kick scream and holler you must still do what you don’t want to do so that you don’t hurt your aunts feelings.

What if we accepted that child’s “no” and let it be. Would Aunt Joyce then throw a fit herself? Throw herself on the ground kicking and screaming that the 5 year old hurt her feelings? Doubtful. She would move on and the child would learn that his or her voice mattered.

This rings true as adults as well. We are so worried about what someone else will think of us if we actually say no. Will they think I’m rude? Will they not like me? Will there be conflict? While all of these are possibilities… is it worth sacrificing your peace of mind?

Look, I am telling you now and my friends know this… if you are moving, don’t call me. I am too old to be throwing my back out trying to lift couches and tables for a six pack of beer and some pizza. Call a moving company cause It ain’t happening. I’ll even pitch in to help you pay for it.

I must also clarify something. I am speaking to people that can’t say no. Have a really hard time doing it. I am not referring to people that you’ve bent over backwards for for whatever reason and when it comes time for you to ask for a favor or for them to show up for you and they make excuses as to why they can’t. I am not talking to you.

Ok back to the subject at hand. Look at it like this, if you say no to the things you actually don’t want to do and yes to the things you do. People, friends, colleagues will respect you and appreciate that you value your time and priorities.

I recently had a client that use to say yes to everyone and everything. When I asked her why she did this she said she didn’t want to let anyone down. When I asked if she was actually enjoying the things she said yes to she said it was about 30/70. So, I challenged her to say no to the next opportunity that she felt wasn’t a fit for her. She was nervous about the task but agreed. The next session we had she told me about a 2 hour zoom panel that she had been invited to speak at that she had literally dreaded the thought of. But she decided to do it, she decided to say “no thank you, I don’t think I’m the best fit for this panel.” And when I asked how she felt after saying no. “liberated!”

You may not think so but trust me, people will respect you and you will feel much better about yourself by simply saying no to things you don’t want to do.

As a coach I am here to help you remember your worth. Help you to remember to put you first. I tell my clients all the time to not forget about their “me time” and not to feel bad about taking it. If you are not taking your me time, saying no to things you don’t want to, you’re going to burn out. It happens far too often. I encourage and sometimes even show my clients how to use their voice. Doing so will take pressure off and at the end of the day they feel better. I encourage you to try it. If you don’t want to do something just politely say “no”

And no, I didn’t make Taylor watch that little Tasmanian devil next door. That little girl really was bad as hell.

You have a voice. It may just be that you haven’t used it in a while or don’t know how to use it. Book a session and let’s discuss.

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