If you feel like you’re always doing what everyone wants and you’re an eternal giver, you’re likely to wind up feeling unhappy, frustrated and at odds with those around you. Often we fear that if we say no, there will be repercussions that will cause us to lose out. We fear saying no means people won’t like or love us if we aren’t agreeable.
If I tell my partner ‘No’, they might leave me.
Telling my friend ‘No’ might mean they no longer want to be friends.
If I tell my colleague to do their own work, I won’t be considered a team player.
Saying ‘no’ isn’t bad; it allows you to control how much you give and take in a relationship.
If you aren’t happy about how much you give and how much others take from you, only you have the ability to change things. Just say no.
You don’t have to turn into a NO!-Maniac. Instead of saying ‘Yes’ all the time, cut back and say it half the time. You’d be amazed at the difference it will make for your personal happiness. And, unsurprisingly, people will have to adapt to the change in your behaviour. This is a fundamental characteristic of human interaction. People do what they do because they are allowed to.
If someone does something you don’t like in your relationship, you have the option of saying that their behaviour is unacceptable. The recipient of this info has two choices: adapt their behaviour to a level of acceptability or ignore what you’ve said and continue. Again, at this point, you can repeat that the behaviour isn’t acceptable. The recipient has the same previous options again. If they can’t toe the line or even find a compromise, if that suits them, it’s time to walk away.
This, however, is why people have trouble saying ‘No’: fear of rejection.
If, by avoiding saying no, you ultimately end up pissed off and frustrated with resentment burning deep, what’s the point? Your inability to say no means that you’re rejecting yourself.
Life is not about being agreeable and allowing people to run roughshod over you. It’s not about being a martyr and putting your needs to the side. Nor is life about letting insecurity rule you so that you end up being surrounded by people that knowingly or not take advantage of your ‘good nature’.
However, remember it’s not a ‘good nature’ if you end up pretending that everything is hunky dory while secretly feeling unhappy. It’s better to say no and be able to breathe easily knowing that you’re being yourself. Often whatever we fear isn’t anywhere near as bad. If someone doesn’t want to be with you because they can’t take advantage, they aren’t worth it anyway.
So if you have a friend that keeps ‘borrowing’ money they don’t pay back, say no when they ask again. Let’s say you have a friend that came to stay for a short period but ended up staying for years. Guess what? It’s time to ask them to move out. If your partner disrespects you by carrying out certain behaviours, say no and accept the possibility that you might be wasting your time with them anyway. Say no if you have a colleague who constantly dumps their workload on you but is happy to take the credit for your effort. Try, where possible, to avoid justifying and explaining. If people are asking, they need to accept the possibility that there may be a ‘No’ in your answer.
For more help with learning to say no when you need, should, or want to, order my new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), out now and available at all booksellers.