"No" is such a small word and yet so hard to say.
Often we don’t want to say no, even when that’s the right thing to do because we don’t want to risk appearing unable, unappreciative, or disrespectful. We don’t always act as we know we should. Many people place more value on what others think of them rather than on what they think of themselves. Their need to please others is so strong that, in pleasing others, they continue to diminish their own worth and the quality of their lives. If you, like many people, inadvertently are more concerned about pleasing others than pleasing yourself, it’s time to change!
If you consider what others think of you to be more important than what you think of yourself, you are likely to accept more responsibility than you want or can handle. In a childish attempt to please, you might accept too many responsibilities and become overwhelmed. We’ve all had occasions when we were afraid to tell the boss no. We’ve hesitated about refusing an invitation lest we hurt someone’s feelings, or we’ve agreed to unnecessarily help out a friend even when we didn’t have the time to do so. As stated before, this can cause you to feel overworked, underpaid, out of control, and unappreciated!
If your self-image is healthy and your need to please others is secondary to pleasing yourself, you will tend to frame your responses in light of your values and priorities. As a result, you will find yourself appropriately saying no when others’ requests are not in alignment with your values and goals. Focus on developing attitudes and habits that continuously enhance a positive self-image and a high level of confidence. Focus on doing the right things for the right reasons.
The key to changing any habit is having a desire to change. Desire is reinforced by your conviction that your goals and priorities are right. Habits are very powerful and difficult to break. Therefore, you must really want to change… and the positive rewards or the negative consequences must outweigh the alternative (of not changing). If they don’t, you’ll do what’s comfortable. It is frequently easier to do what is familiar than to do what we know is right, but familiar may not be best.
Choose the outcomes you desire. Who you are today may have been the result of choices made by others in years past. Who you become tomorrow will be a result of choices you make today. Look to the future, not to the past. View setbacks not at failures but as learning experiences and opportunities for growth. Situations do not control you. If you feel your job, your life, your boss, your employees, or your family controls your time, you’ve chosen to let them. You can choose to control your own life. You can select the events in which you want to participate and you can affect the ultimate outcome. Alan Kay once said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." People may attempt to control our lives, but they are only successful if we choose to let them. What you accomplish, and the amount of time you spend getting there, depends on the choices you continue to make.
So, when appropriate, based on your values and priorities (not someone else’s), say "no, nicely and professionally, but without guilt or shame. Choose to control your own life.
Note: Soon after posting this blog, a related article was posted on FastCompany by Jocelyn Glei that includes some practical tips. So, click here for the link to that article.