Saying Yes to Saying NO

“Freedom isn’t the ability to say yes, it is the ability to say No”. And how true is this! Ironically, we end up doing the reverse, saying Yes when we have to say No. We limit our freedom.

Picture this, you are working on a project and receive a call from a colleague. He asks if you could help with an ongoing project in your office. You are probably occupied with another work but out of goodwill, you say a yes. After a few days, you receive similar requests, and this time you want to decline but feel stuck. You feel confused and overwhelmed. It will be a vicious cycle that will be difficult for you to break.

Recently, an acquaintance called to request if I could help with a task, and for the first time, I said I could not help. The person mentioned the task, said it would take me a few days to finish and it included working on weekends. She genuinely required someone to help her. I have had worked on weekends until recently but decided to reserve time for my family. So, I politely refused. Another time, a friend approached for another help and I had to turn her down too. I have started saying yes to saying No. This is my story. 

Well, as I have said in my previous ’10 Reason’s Why,’ doing something against your heart, against your will, will only lead to more unhappiness within you. And, if you are not happy, others around you would either be. Refer keys to Self-Love

My journey from “Yes” to “No” took me many years. So, it is extremely relatable when someone tells me they just don’t know how to refuse or turn down someone. And, if like me, you are an empath, a person who is sensitive about others’ feelings and puts others’ feelings above yours, it becomes double challenging to say NO. Old colleagues and associates would chide me often for taking up projects/work of other co-workers just to help them out. But in the end, I would lose out on precious “me time”. I realized this much later. 

An empath’s emotional cycle

Typically, an empath will often feel stuck in a cycle, unable to break it. I have always been an empath. Each time the empath tries to convey they are busy it ends up looking more like a Yes or an affirmation for the other person. The reason is the body language – it’s vague! Most women face this in their daily lives. They end up taking more work – more than they can handle. Right from morning to evening, whether it’s household chores, kids, cooking, cleaning, or for their profession, women somehow manage to squeeze in extra time for that one “small” chore/help someone needs from them. Unfortunately, many such “small chores” lead to many and eventually end in exhaustion and body breakdowns too! In the process, they end up draining off all their energies. So we should learn to say NO.

1. Maintain strong body language
Always be extremely clear with your voice, body language, and non-verbal gestures. You could sport a slight smile on the face and simply refuse to do the work. No apologies are needed either.

2. Show or share your calendar status
Even though NO is a complete sentence, some of us find it difficult to be firm when it comes to refusing help. Show your calendar and mention your cut-off work time to the person (if you are in the office or even at home). If you are working remotely, you can send a screenshot on your phone to the person showing your schedule for the day. Once you do so, it will get easier to turn down.

3. Maintain a clear schedule – Soft-board & Online Sticky Notes
Keep a soft board at your workplace as well as at home. Make a weekly chart or timetable of all the work you have planned in the week and pin it there. Each time, a colleague/ any person approaches you for help, you can easily glance at your schedule and calculate the amount of time to finish your existing tasks. Once you set a cut-off time for completing your work, it will be much easier to decide whether you can take on an extra task apart from the existing ones. Those who are constantly on the move, and may not have time to check their soft boards, can set an alert on their phones as well. As soon as your phone buzzes notifying you of your day’s tasks (set at respective timings), you can plan to take on additional tasks accordingly. 

4. Empath Route
Use lines like “I feel you”, “I completely understand your situation” and follow it up by saying “I wished I could, but I cannot take on this additional task since it will delay my existing work.” No false promises here but genuine empathy is shown.

5. “I love the task, an excellent job opportunity, but…”
There are times when a compliment works wonders in refusing a person. It may be extremely tough to refuse the job especially if it is as per your requirements. So, begin your response by appreciating the task, thanking the person for the opportunity, and telling how you would love to do it. In the end, it will be easier to say you will not be able to handle the task.

6. Logic vs Emotions
It may sound a bit clinical/terse but try this. Start asking questions to the person offering the task/job/asking for help. Set aside emotions. a) What is the task about? b) How long will the task take to complete? c) How much do I have to do? d) What are XYZ’s expectations regarding the task. Depending on responses, you can turn down the task. NO heartburns/awkwardness.

7. Assert you love for providing quality output
This will help you refuse to do a job to a large extent. You can cite that the time period is too short to deliver a good quality product/output.

8. Set your value, choose yourself
Please set a higher value for yourself whenever you are approached with a project. It does help in filtering jobs that are not worth your time. 

9. You aren’t an elastic band
After a lot of sticky situations where I wasn’t able to say no because I was approached by known people, I realized I was over stretching myself. I was sitting beyond working hours just to complete deadlines. 

10. Follow your instincts 
The moment you get a job assigned to u or someone approaches you with a project, you will get the vibes easily. You will be able to get a cursory glance into the time and money aspects of the projects. Choose accordingly and say no to doing something you don’t want to do. 

Reserving the right to say no might make you look like a vamp/villain, for awhile. But trust me, once you make it a part of your system, people will stop taking you for granted! Trust me, it is the most exhilarating and liberating feeling. So, whether you are a woman/man, be aware of your feelings, be clear with your thoughts and learn to be firm. You need NOT agree to do every work that is offered to you. 

Follow Priya Rajendran 
Follow The Word Route

3 thoughts on “Saying Yes to Saying NO

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