Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Exploring The Lost Art of Saying NO!

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Why is it so difficult to say no and stand by it? This is something many people struggle with at various points in time. Some did end up mastering this skill - believe me it’s one - of saying no so much that, they’ve got it down to an art form. You’d be glad they actually declined your request. 

But if you are anything like the average person you probably find it painful to say no to your little niece, brother and/or sisters, talk more of a boss, or your forcefully pushy; yet tactful colleague at the office. Whom, quite sadly, you’ve been itching to tell off. This never happens though, as you find yourself agreeing to do extra work each time he comes with a request.

You technically jump through fire hoops for this proverbial colleague. Neither do you feel good about these tasks, but you just can’t bring yourself to say No!

So you wimp out; bottling up your frustrations with your colleague, and your self for agreeing yet again.

Studies show that this causes job stress and imminent release of this pent-up emotion is inevitable. The sad part is the trigger might be something as trifling as a ‘little’ critique of your work. So how do we avoid this impending conflict? And leave with our self-esteem and sanity intact?

Well as obvious as it sounds, just say no. It’s as simple as that. No means no. No is a complete sentence in and of itself. But few rarely use this two letter word. 

It’s interesting to note that we all want to say no to plenty - if not all - of the things we’ve said yes to. But no one wants to be tagged‘selfish’ and ‘mean’. 

Neither do we want to feel guilty and unhelpful to our friends and colleague. So to feel good about our self, we compensate by going on a yes streak. We say yes to any and every request; however trivial, banal or inane the request might seem to us. Whereas it would have pleased us to no end to just say no.

This reminds me of a Nigerian maxim in Pidgin English: “Yes no dey cause problem” roughly translated - saying Yes to or agreeing to do something never raises any arguments and/or objections.

Several times I’ve found myself agreeing to go on mundane errands and trips that I eventually regretted to no end. It wasn’t a very healthy experience both for myself and for my friends. Because I was grumpy, my mind was somewhere else but my body was trapped there. I would have preferred to be anywhere but there.
So to avert this feelings of frustration I simply started saying no more often, particularly if a request was going to clash with my time and interests. Like every new skill, this wasn’t easy at first.
I also noticed that it usually elicited mixed reactions from the folks involved. So I started by giving time constraints or having plenty on my plate. Usually this works..

This penchant to say yes doesn’t end with interpersonal relations. It has also trickled down into our activities online. We are quick to say yes to notifications online. We could be doing a research and a notification - either on Facebook or Twitter - pops up. It’s quickly checked out, and a few seconds has turned into forty-five unaccounted minutes on Facebook. Simply saying NO to yourself would have sufficed.

Our Yes muscle has grown so big, that I’m tempted to say this inclination to say yes, inherent in us all, now has a mind of its own. We are technically a lumbering mass of ‘Yes Men’.

Consequently our inclination or ability if you may, to say No has atrophied and shriveled considerably due to a lack of use. Its powers has waned. Saying No is beginning to feel like an alien concept to some of us able ‘Yes Men’.

Not that saying yes to things is a bad idea in and of itself. It’s about knowing the right activities or tasks to say Yes to. Because saying Yes to the wrong activities, closes up the space for us to do the right ones. So we lose out on opportunities to improve or do something meaningful.
I’ll end by saying; ditch the guilt. Allow yourself to say an emphatic No to everything guiltlessly, so you can say Yes to one thing. Have the time and energy to pursue this one Yes to the fullest.
It could be anything, just make sure it is what you truly want to do. Then say an emphatic yes to it, and do it to the best of your ability.

What are those activities you have saying Yes to that you need to start saying No to? 

I’ll love to hear your thoughts on this.

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