Are you comfortable saying “no”?

ambiguity boundaries future life overwhelm people people pleasers saying no time work Nov 15, 2021
Are you comfortable saying “no”?

The idea of saying "no" can be alien to many people.

Some people are really good at it, they are very clear about what they do and do not want in their life. These people are exceptionally good at putting boundaries in place and saying no to things that don't align with them, or don't work for them. And in my experience, there’s very few people in that category.

When I’m coaching, it's much more common to work with people who are too agreeable. And they're saying yes, all the time to too many people about too many different things. So they tie themselves into knots trying to fit everything in, they have too many conflicting demands, too many people around them demanding too many things. And they don't know how to actually fulfil all these demands, or to keep people around them happy.

Many of us are people pleasers - we like to try and please the people around us. This idea of “saying no” can be foreign, and even little confronting. Normally developed through childhood, where you needed to behave yourself, not argue with your teachers, do what your parents told you.

We tend to forget that if someone asks you for something, or if someone suggests you that you do something, it's perfectly within your right to decide what's practical and appropriate for you, and to say no to that.  Perhaps it doesn't work for you, doesn't fit your agenda, doesn't align with your values, or doesn’t fit in your calendar - it's perfectly okay for you just to say no.

I see so many people maintain that they either can't say no; or when they do say no, they launch into this big justification, to try and explain away and give all the reasons why they're actually saying no.

Not only is it perfectly okay for you to say no, but it's perfectly okay for you not to give any kind of reason as to why you're saying no.  It can be as simple as saying “no thanks, that's not going to work for me”.

You don't need to give a long, lengthy explanation about how or why this happened, or fitting into your calendar. It's not relevant to the person who's asking you – they only need to know quite simply whether you are, or are not going to do a thing.

And it's up to you to vary - if you can't do it instantly, you can play for time until you’re ready to respond. It's also perfectly acceptable to say, let me go away and figure it out, and I'm going to come back to you. And in that time frame, it allows you to ask yourself, does it align with your values? Does it fit in? Is it something that's adding value to your life? Or are you just finding that you're making yourself too available to people around you? Are you just saying yes to everything, because you want to feel needed, you want to feel like other people desire your skills and talents. And so you're saying yes to everything.

Because that ends up contributing to a situation where you can't do everything for everybody. And you're the one that feels like you're in a pickle because you've got too much on and you've caused the whole problem yourself. Instead of saying no, you've said yes, too many times to too many people about too many things.

So I encourage you to have a think about your world and your life. Is there somewhere at the moment where you're saying yes, that really you want to say no. And if that's the case, go back to that person, go back to the thing in your calendar, go back to the thing that's been scheduled and just politely say, “I'm sorry, it's not going to work for me, I can't do it”.

And see how freeing that that actually feels. When you do literally free up time in your calendar in your day, and in your mind, for all those things that you actually want to allow in there. When we forget about the skill of saying no, we let other people take over our time.

And I don't know about you, but I want to manage my time myself. I don't want anyone else to be in control of my time. So part of me being able to manage my time is being very, very clear about the people that I allow into my time. If you're in my calendar, you're there because I want you to be there, because I've chosen you to be there. And you're there because I'm very clear that I want you to be there.

If you're not there, then all of those opposite reasons apply.

Okay, so I want you to take a moment, and reflect about your world and your life. Are you overwhelmed, trying to fit “all the things” in?  Are you comfortable saying “no”?

One of the programs I run spends time examining things like personal mastery and boundaries. We're going to be looking at how you tolerate ambiguity. As a leader, we're going to be looking at your vision, we're going to be looking at a whole range of things that help you to realize that there is life beyond COVID and there is a future there for you to plan for.

So if you're interested in learning how to say no, and taking control back, send me a message.  I might just say “yes”.

In the meantime I invite you to register for our upcoming FREE webinar, as we launch our new Wellbeing Programme.