To learn to say “No”, we have to first understand what’s resisting us about it. Below are common reasons why people find it hard to say no:
1. You want to help . You are a kind soul at heart. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.
2. Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude. This thinking is common in Asia culture, where face-saving is important. Face-saving means not making others look bad (a.k.a losing face).
3. Wanting to be agreeable . You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement. So you confirm to others’ requests.
4. Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her. This might lead to an ugly confrontation. Even if there isn’t, there might be dissent created which might lead to negative consequences in the future.
5. Fear of lost opportunities . Perhaps you are worried saying no means closing doors. For example, one of my clients’ wife was asked to transfer to another department in her company. Since she liked her team, she didn’t want to shift. However, she didn’t want to say no as she felt it would affect her promotion opportunities in the future.
6. Not burning bridges . Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. It might lead to bridges being burned and relationships severed.
If you nodded to any of the reasons, I’m with you. They applied to me at one point or another. However, in my experience dealing with people at work and in life, I realized these reasons are more misconceptions than anything. Saying “No” doesn’t mean you are being rude; neither does it mean you are being disagreeable. Saying “No” doesn’t mean there will be conflict nor that you’ll lose opportunities in the future. And saying no most definitely doesn’t mean you’re burning bridges. These are all false beliefs in our mind.
At the end of the day, it’s about how
you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Say no is your prerogative.