Everyone has the same 24 hours. How you use it is the problem.
You can not solve all problems for everyone. This means that you
should know your limit. Some people always want to encroach on your time by
saying "can you do this for me". Please those that you can't do, you
should say "no" politely. Those we can do we should say so swiftly.
The Danger of being a Yes Person
But yes is a dangerous habit to fall into. Saying yes here and
there might seem harmless. But all those little yeses add up. They compound on
each other, and they can transform a decisive strategy with clear objectives
into an all-you-can-eat buffet of tactics and activities with no common goal.
It can complicate your life. It gives you unrelated tasks to do. More so
unrelated to your goal.
The true cost of yes is far greater than most of us realize.
When we say yes to the small things, we're also saying yes to switching costs.
We're saying yes to scope creep. We're saying yes to shipping late.
Falling into the habit of yes is like running a marathon where
every three miles you decide to run in a different direction for a quarter-mile
before getting back on course.
The habit of yes means never crossing the finish line before
your competitors, or worse yet, never crossing at all.
Everyone wants to be respectful of their co-workers but invariably
saying yes to every request is disrespectful to the company. Yes leads to
mediocrity. Yes is execution's Achilles heel.
An Achilles heel is a weakness despite overall strength, which
can lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical
vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can
lead to downfall are common.
Yes is a
non-confrontational cop-out. It circumvents the reality that we need to make
Ultimately, yes isn't respectful. Yes is the insidious business
How can you develop the habit of saying no? These are some of
the tips :
Treat it like a muscle. In other words, flex the habit of saying
no a little bit every day. And like any habit, once you repeat the behaviour
continuously over time, it will feel more natural to you.
Let's move from the how to the when.
When can you practice saying no?
Here are 7 situations (and reasons) to use as opportunities for
When you need more time. This goes for situations when you're
asked to do something immediately but you already have other obligations. For
example, you're asked to run an errand early in the morning, but if you do
you'll be late for an important meeting. In this case, it's better to proceed
with caution than to over-commit and then rush to work unprepared. Not sure?
Try responding with, "No, but I could help at a later time if that's an
option?" and wait to get clarification.
When you need space. Sometimes you are invited to events you
don't want to attend, especially when it means having even less time to spend
with your family or a partner. You have so many hours of work or school, so you
need to be strategic with your free time. Instead of going out every night on weekends,
try dedicating more time to yourself by investing it in a personal project,
reading more, or just hanging out and having a relaxing time at home with your
sibling, spouse, or close friend.
When advice is not welcome. There will always be people in your
life (both close to you and those just passing through) who will offer their
piece of advice. Just because you're talking to them and devoting some time to
the conversation does not mean you should heed their advice. Why? Because so
much of the advice you're given is biased and based on life experiences which
may (or may not) coincide with your own. Use your critical thinking skills to
discern what needs more of your attention because it's relevant to your life,
from what is not important and can be dismissed with a polite "thank
you" before you move on.
When you receive a request to act in a way that goes against
your value system. Sometimes you'll be asked to do something, from supporting a
family member who acts in a harmful way towards someone else, to ignoring the
unethical behaviour of a co-worker at the office. And even though you may think
that it's easy enough to pull it off at the moment, you should ask yourself if
doing so would go against your own life goals and the values you were raised
with. Don't put yourself in a situation where you look back with regret and
when you might not like seeing your reflection in the mirror the next day.
When your gut tells you it's a bad idea. Maybe everyone in your
social circle will urge you to do something, be with someone, or go somewhere.
It may sound appealing at first glance. Maybe even those closest to you might
believe it strongly. It may be that you "should" get a degree in a
specific subject or you "must" pick someone as a life partner, however,
the very thought of it fills you with dread. The truth is, nobody else will
lead your life for you; you will. So support yourself all the way. Learn to
trust your gut. Say no if it does not support your goal.
Say No when you anticipate you'll feel a huge sense of relief
for saying it. Don't confuse this with the relief that comes with saying no to
fulfilling an obligation. It's more like being focused on what you should be
thinking, which is always at least two steps ahead. If you believe you're procrastinating
about something or just postponing giving a response (but you know you'll have
to do it eventually), then actually coming out and saying no will feel like a
big burden sliding off your shoulders. And there's nothing wrong with saying no
in such a situation.
When you want to have more ownership of your life. Let's face
it: we are social animals. We will be surrounded by people most of our lives,
and chances are that many of them will ask us to do things, say things, act in
a certain way, pick them over someone else, spend time with them, or give them
the attention that they need at any given moment.
Remember: just because people demand things from us does not
mean we always should give in. Don't go the passive route and say yes to things
just because you haven't figured out a good way to say no, and then blame the
person later for wasting hours or even days or months of your life. Passivity
can easily slip into bitterness, sarcasm, and a negative outlook that can drown
out any real effort to make a positive change towards becoming the best version
of yourself. So do yourself a favour: be strategic with your time starting
today, and practice saying no whenever you feel it's the right thing for you.
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