I did it again. I had a friend ask me for a favor and before I could even think about the answer I was saying YES! I am a first-rate people pleaser well at least one in recovery. In the past I was really bad. I couldn't say no to people no matter how bad the situation was for me. My desire to be agreeable and liked always stood in the way of my best interest. And as I found myself in one bad situation after another. I knew one thing. I had to learn how to say NO and I had to do it fast!
And even though recently I relapsed this is a good time to remind myself why I learned to say No in the first place. Saying Yes to everything is the fastest way to burn out. Learning how to prioritize is important because we have limited amounts of time. So if we know this, then why is it so hard to say no?
We might have a fear of conflict. Most of us don't like conflict or others being upset with us. Therefore we avoid saying no to avoid conflict. As children we are taught to not go against authority. We obey because of fears of being punished. Unfortunately we also carry that with us into adulthood.
We don't want to disappoint or hurt people. Often times we say yes simply because we don't want to hurt other people's feelings. Sometimes we do things for others, even if it is not quite what we want.
We are women. Studies show that women are more likely to say yes to something even if they don't want to do it, than men. Katharine O'Brien, a postdoctoral research associate at the Baylor School of Medicine, and Eden King of George Mason University conducted a series of studies, which concluded that women find it harder than men to decline assignments that aren't part of their normal jobs. They discovered that it wasn't a difference in personality but that social norms guided women's behavior.
Here's what we can do about it...
Wait. It helps to stall. Don't respond immediately. It's always best to wait before you make a decision. That way you can take time to mull over how saying "yes" to this new commitment will affect your life.
Narrow down your priorities. Having a clear picture of your commitments will let you know whether you should even entertain the idea of adding something else to your schedule.
Consider other alternatives. Saying no doesn't mean you are a bad person. It simply means that you have priorities and boundaries. When someone comes to you with a request try to offer them another solution that doesn't include you.
Keep it Simple. There is no need to explain why you are saying no. Never over explain or apologize for saying no. Keep your explanation direct, brief, and be kind in your response. Long explanations can backfire by giving them a opportunity to push back and question your decision. Always be firm and clear when saying No.
The best way to get good at saying no is to practice. Start off by saying No to things that are unimportant. Eventually you will learn to prioritize. Saying No to friends, family, and coworkers will become easier. Soon enough you will be saying no like the girl boss that you are!