Do you say yes when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do? Do you then complain about it later? Does it make you feel a bit like a jerk?
I get it, Dear friend. I know you are not a jerk. You believe you are being nice. It is my job as your coach to turn things upside down and or inside out, so that you can see things from a different perspective and hopefully nudge you out of a well-worn rut. This belief that you can’t say no is robbing you of energy.
But what about my family and friends? You ask. Don’t we ‘have to’ do what they want in order to keep peace? The short answer? No, you don’t. We never ‘have to’ do anything we don’t want. Of course, there are consequences to our choices, always, but everyone has free will. If you choose to say no to someone close to you, they definitely have the option to say no to you in the future. When you truly care about someone, helping them does NOT feel like a sacrifice.
What about asks from your boss? If it’s phrased in the form of a request, then you do have the option to say no. If it’s a command disguised as a question because they think they’re being polite, well, then you might ask for definite clarification. Ask, "is it optional?"
It is time to develop a when and how to say no policy.
When To Say No:
1) The request does not completely ‘light you up.’Is it on the level of?
* Oprah’s on the phone and wants to interview you for her magazine, shall I put her through?
* I have tickets to see your favorite band in concert, do you want to drive?
* The specialist you’ve been waiting to consult has an opening, do you want the appointment?
(Ok, so these ‘may’ be things that ‘light’ me up, but you get the point.)
2) You become annoyed with the person asking
3) The request makes you feel put-upon, resentful, bitter or even angry.
It comes down to this; once you’ve chosen yes, you forfeit your complaining rights. Proceed to fulfil the request happily.
But, Coach, I really do want to say no, I just can’t do it.
How To Say No:
1) Plant your feet firmly.
3) Say ‘No.’ ( If you really need to, you can add ‘thank you.’)
4) Stop. Do NOT rush in to give excuses, smooth the waters, apologize, and negotiate. Just say no. No, I can’t and No, I don’t want to, are valid reasons.
5) Observe how you’re feeling, observe your breathing. (Stay present and in your body.)
That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Your emotions may vary from “OMG, I’m so scared,” to “holy crap that felt great!” You may experience guilt. Your inner critic will have a field day and be pulling out all the stops to make you feel bad about your decision. It will for sure tell you that you are not 'nice!' That’s ok.
Now the requester may have some kind of reaction ranging from complete acceptance to total outrage. (If violence is a possible consequence, you have a more serious issue on your hands. Please seek help.)
The effects of saying no are cumulative. You will soon be saying no like a boss and liking it, yourself and everyone more. You will notice growing respect from “your people.’ You have stopped resenting them and complaining about them. (You are no longer a Jerk!) Those that are NOT your people will stop asking you for favours and/or exit your life because you are no longer ‘useful’ to them. Believe me, this is not a loss, it is a gain.
The next step is to move toward what you really want to say yes to. The clue is to spend time noticing that “lights you up” feeling I mentioned earlier.
Stay Tuned for Part Two: Finding Your Yes.