Many of us fear the word “no”. An itty-bitty two letter word, it holds immense power over how we are perceived by our peers. While “no” can seem like an aggressive dismissal, it can also be liberating, freeing us from unwanted and unnecessary burdens.
Although it is easy to feel pressured into saying yes and agreeing to things to save face from a social aspect, this is wholly untrue. Unfortunately, the need to placate or risk being a bad person causes the “disease to please“, and bogs down our time and energy.
Currently, it seems like we need to appease everyone who crosses our paths, otherwise we are terrible people.By constantly saying yes to too many undertakings, you overburden yourself and open yourself up to manipulation. When someone asks for a favor, or asks for you to complete a task, ask yourself, “do I genuinely want to do this?”. If the answer is no, it would not make you happy, then that should be your response: “unfortunately, I can’t help you out.”
So how do you say no without crossing the line?
First, it’s important to be firm. Explain your situation – are you up to your eyeballs in homework? Have a big game to train for next weekend? Babysitting your brother that night? The other person will understand you have prior commitments. Secondly, there is no need to fabricate stories about why you cannot do something, sometimes, a simple no, with no explanation, rationalization or justification will suffice. Click here for more ideas for what to say in specific sticky situations.
Saying “no” is your shield to keep distractions, detours, and divergences away. Staying focused on your own tasks, concentrating your energy, and achieving your goals are the first priority. While there’s no problem with helping someone else out, do so in your free time. People-pleasing is not a way to make friends or get others to like you; in reality it kills your time, limits your productivity, and is a disservice to you.
Saying no commands respect for your time and yourself. By communicating clearly and effectively, the other person understands and appreciates your honesty to them. It does not make you mean, it shows you have a priority list and other goals that need to be handled. The ability to set boundaries and limit the amount of things on your plate is an important skill for both school and personal life. This also puts you first, and keeps you from becoming a people pleaser, which hinders productivity and creates stress.
Remember, saying no isn’t as bad as you think. The other person will get over it, and you will keep your life under your control. While it may seem rude or aggressive, it is imperative to understand that we are in charge of our lives. When others ask for things on their behalf, we must decide if it worth our time, attention, and energy.