Why is it so hard to say “no”? Could it be because we don’t want to disappoint someone? Probably, but there are many reasons we avoid saying “no”. This quote by Dr. Brown captures the primary reason why we say “yes” most of the time.
“Choose discomfort over resentment.” – Dr. Brené Brown
Saying “no” is uncomfortable and yes is almost an involuntary response in our culture. While our gut may be screaming “no” to cramming more events or projects into an already packed schedule, somehow, we end up doing it anyway. A sense of obligation traps us. The big question is why?
Could it be fear?
Fear of confrontation. Fear of offending someone. Fear of losing influence. If the cycle continues, it creates a mess of our lives and relationships. The problem with overcommitment is stress.
We’ve given too much attention to busying ourselves with other people’s expectations that we’ve lost ownership over our schedules. How did this happen? We haven’t granted ourselves permission to say ‘no’ and really mean it.
We have a hard time saying “no” because most requests are about good things. Like a friend who really needs your help on a last-minute project, your kid’s coach who has always counted on you to organize the volunteers, or a coworker who is leaning on your expertise.
Saying no to good things doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a healthy person.
Clear priorities and planned schedules grant us the conviction to say “no”. Good leaders say “no” to stay the course for things they’ve already committed to, and it’s a beautiful thing. It promises focus, balance and excellence. If you need to get back to your key priorities, consider making a list of what’s most important and any new commitments that may need to be cut. It might be painful, and some people will not understand, but with each “no” you are paving the path to a healthier you.
An article in Psychology Today says this so well: “No says, ‘This is who I am; this is what I value; this is what I will and will not do.'” We are all committed to assisting the success of others, but not at the expense of losing our own balance and productivity!
Saying ‘no’ means you’ll encounter some pushback.
Falling back into our old habits of overcommitment and succumbing to the pressure of what other people want will happen, and we must be prepared for it. Do not make excuses or apologize for saying “no”. Despite what our culture suggests, “no” is a perfectly acceptable response to a question, and we can thank the person for considering our assistance. Being polite yet direct is a necessary skill to adopt. Stand strong against the pressure, no matter how uncomfortable is a must to protect the priorities and relationships that are most important to you.
Saying “no” is the role of a leader.
While it isn’t always easy, other people are counting on you to decipher the good from the great. Will you stand strong or cave to the pressures of doing what you believe people want? It’s easy to forget that other people are watching even our smallest actions. They are waiting to see us lead by example. It’s helpful to remember that behind every “no” is an opportunity for others to step up and for us to maintain our health and excellence. Keep this in mind as you go about your day and pursue your priorities. This will help you discover greater freedom in the work that is set before you.
To your excellence,