Saturday, December 8, 2007

No Is Not A Dirty Word

Many people find it extremely difficult to say ‘No’ to people’s requests and demands. I personally struggled with this for most of my life.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to say ‘No’? From analysing my own experiences and talking to other people I have found the following to be some of the causes.

* Habit
* Underestimating a task
* Desire to rescue, serve and please others
* Fear of rejection
* Guilt
* Poor self-esteem and self-confidence
* Not knowing how to be assertive
* Avoids confrontation

It is important to understand that always saying ‘YES’ can lead to overload and feelings of frustration, resentment, stress and can also steel you away from important activities in your life. I classify important activities in your life as activities that make you happy and healthy and that contribute in some way to you achieving your life’s goals.

It is important to understand that when you say ‘YES’ to accepting an undertaking you are always giving up something else in its place. That something else could be time with your loved ones, time-out for you to relax, time that you could be doing some exercise, time that you could be getting more sleep, or time that you could be spending on matters of importance to you or things that you enjoy doing.

When we always say ‘YES’ to other people’s requests for our time without thinking of the consequences we can find ourselves in an unwanted situation where we have very little time to devote to our own life. This can ultimately lead to a decaying of our physical and mental wellbeing if we are not mindful of this fact.

It is essential for your own wellbeing that you respect your own needs and time. It is not selfish at all to devote time to looking after yourself and your own life. It is vital that you look after and love yourself first. You can be of greater benefit to others if you invest time in growing and improving yourself. I know from my experience that if you do not respect your time others will not respect it. You need to set the boundaries on your time. It is your responsibility to set the parameters so that others have an understanding of the importance of your time. As an example in my life I have allocated Sunday as a day of rest, time with my family and friends, and time for me to attend my community church. In the past when people would ask me to do something for them regardless of the day or time I would more often than not say ‘YES’ even if it meant sacrificing something of importance to me. That was attributed to some of the reasons that I have mentioned above. Today my reply to people who may want me to do something for them on a Sunday would be “I would love to help you with that. However, Sunday is an important day for me to spend with my family and friends and to have some rest. I’m sure you can understand and respect that. I will check my diary and look at another time that I could possible assist you.” It is very interesting to observe that now that I have set this boundary people respect it. The power is ultimately in your hands to control your time.

A good habit to create is to always stop and think before accepting a request no matter what is. Then you can make an informed conscious decision of whether to accept it or not. Don’t just say ‘YES’ automatically and regret and resent it later. Some suggestions that you could reply with are:

“I will have to check my calendar and get back to you.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not able to do this right now.”

“Let me think about it and get back to you.”

I believe that Mahatma Gandhi’s following quote sums the topic up perfectly.

“A ‘No’ uttered form deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”

Author: Steve Decker - Life Management & Success Coach

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