I was cleaning my room when I came across this slip of paper I had torn from a page in Reader’s Digest (n. d., RD Family, p. 138) many, many years ago. I saw the title and I smiled to myself. It was thanks to this paper that I am able to practise saying no, and prioritise better.
The most part of our lives is about decision-making. It can get overwhelming when we just say YES! to everything. Saying No (politely, of course), is a way to protect yourself from undue stress and overload.
Just Say No
When my son was two, there were times when I told him to do something and he just said, “No.” I’d look at him in amazement, admiring his courage and amused by his audacity. There’s an irony here: Small children have less trouble saying no than most adults do. A second irony is that when people can’t say no, they often end up feeling overloaded and resentful. However, those who are able to say no have less pressure and feel more in control.
Learning to say no doesn’t mean we have to become difficult and uncooperative. After all, collaboration and teamwork are essential in the workplace. Saying no is about recognizing our limits and being selective. You can even say it in a way people will accept without actually using the word no:
Express your wish to comply: “I’d like to do that for you”, “I wish I could help”
Give an explanation: “I’m working on a tight deadline.”
Offer an alternative: “I can’t help you now, but I can do it next Tuesday.”
Ask your boss to prioritise: “Which of these projects would you like me to set aside in order to do this one?”
Give it a try from today! If ever you need the courage/motivation to say no, or a role model, just turn to your two-year-old and ask him to eat his veggies.