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Learn to say ‘NO’

One of the most difficult things for me was saying ‘no’ to people. I always found myself saying yes to almost everything; professionally and personally. One of the major reasons why it was difficult for me to say ‘no’ is because I assumed that saying ‘yes’ is easier and the situation doesn’t get awkward. At least it doesn’t get awkward right there and then; only to pop up later as an ugly mess. I learnt it the hard way to say ‘no’, in-order to avoid complications and trouble in the near future.

I was having coffee with a work acquaintance to discuss business partnership. The self-proclaimed revolutionary guy was rude to the waiter, he didn’t bother asking me my preference for the coffee let alone the business model and the most annoying part was he referred to me as ‘doll’. Such a douche bag! I was thinking to myself why am I still here? Do I want to do business with him? Am I this desperate for investment? About an hour in the meeting I was brainstorming myself for an excuse to leave, ideas in my head grew crazier and crazier as he continued to speak and disrespected almost everyone he knew. I felt uncomfortable and insulted; it struck me that I didn’t owe him an explanation to leave. I had a flashback where a friend had asked me to learn to say ‘no’ if I wanted to avoid uncalled trouble. I handed him my share of the bill and left saying “thank you for showing me the new coffee place but I don’t intend to do business with people who are so disrespectful and self-centered.” I also left him with a free advice of trying not to refer to woman as ‘doll’. It was such a relief to leave and never hear from him again just because I had the nerve to say ‘no’ to the idea of his business proposal and dash out.

As a woman, we are often expected NOT to say no, be more accommodating and agree easily. After practically implying my friend’s advice to not flinch in saying ‘no’ I learned that until I learned to say ‘no’, I wasn’t able to fully say ‘yes’. Refusing politely can set your boundaries to form a safe space, you are able to think constructively and saying ‘yes’ might put you in danger. It also represents that you don’t easily say ‘yes’ to things hence making it more meaningful and showing your commitment.

By the passage of time I learned that turning opportunities down which aren’t beneficial for me takes courage but it is the right thing to do – to admit you aren’t ready yet, you lack interest or you want better. It is good to remind yourself:

  • “No, this job isn’t right for me”
  • “No, I don’t want to be in this relationship”
  • “No, I want a bigger salary”
  • “No, I want to live elsewhere”

Do not chase every opportunity, stay focused. Take a step back, ease down to measure events and activities before acting upon them. Don’t become a “people pleaser”, be proactive instead and develop your criteria. Practice to politely decline what comes your way without thinking “what if you hurt someone’s feelings?” “What if this job or business opportunity never knocks again?”

Although it needs some gumption to turn down opportunities in the beginning; you will be surprised how it will open up a frank new discussion letting people know what you are actually looking for. For starters the magical word can do wonders like:

  • You become more honest and build confidence
  • Your time becomes more meaningful and ‘yes’ becomes more valuable
  • You are composed most of the time instead of being passive-aggressive
  • You don’t succumb to pressure and it eradicates an awkward situation, beforehand
  • Sets your priorities.
  • People don’t take you for granted and you gain some real respect
  • Lastly and most importantly, it will make your face glow!

The word ‘no’ just has a bad rap, I ascertain you it can do wonders. Embrace the freedom you have to say no! You will be surprised at all of the positives that result. Relax and practice the word ‘NO’.

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