Learn to say 'no'

Learn to say 'no'

Learn to say 'no'

People-pleasers love to get work done without any disagreements. But ladies, do learn to say ‘no’; it has the power to bring you mental strength and put more life into your living, insists Suja Natarajan

Being the eldest daughter in the family, Daksha Adiga was conditioned to say ‘yes’ since childhood. She was looked upon as the caretaker of her younger siblings when the parents were away at work.

She loved all the adulation that she received for her hard work. She beamed when people remarked on her wonderful upbringing. This continued for more than three decades of her life, before she finally realised that she was actually losing herself in the process, and wieghed the unnecessary tension she underwent in keeping up the promises. 

Does saying ‘yes’ seem incredibly easier than saying a ‘no’? Are you, too, the type of person who hates to turn down someone who asks for your help? Why do we say ‘yes’ even when we really want to say ‘no’? According to Linda Tillman, a psychologist at Emory University, Atlanta, it is natural for us to be generous and give up our own needs to meet someone else’s.

Although saying ‘yes’ can make us look good and can boost our mood for the moment, it can also make us stressed and over-committed later.We live in a culture where harmony is preferred over conflict, even though deep down we could not disagree more - be it with family, friends or colleagues.

The tendency to concur, rather than confront, is very common. People-pleasers love to preserve relationships and want to get work done without any disagreements. In fact, saying ‘yes’, without thinking, is the result of being conditioned to say ‘yes’ since our childhood.

Women, in particular, are accustomed to value other people’s needs and feelings, over their own. Reciprocation is an emotional trigger, in making us say ‘yes’. Rues Daksha, “We had planned for a family outing in the weekend and I was very excited about it.
 That was until my sister called me to babysit her kids, assuming we would be there. I had to say yes because I thought she would do it for me if I were to be in her situation sometime.”

Women, by nature are empathetic, but often people take advantage of this attribute. Psychologists opine that women habitually say yes, as they risk being termed as selfish, if they don’t. Men too face the same predicament, but with some differences. 

While women more often say ‘yes’ to save relationships, men are likely to say ‘yes’ for people’s acceptance. However, men don’t admit about the problem as much as women do.

Therapists categorise other reasons why it is difficult for people to say ‘no’:

* Fear of offending someone: “I don’t want to disappoint her. I may offend her if I don’t give her money.”

* Fear of authority: “He is my boss. I don’t want to create issues in our relationship.”

* Need people’s acceptance: “If I say no, they will think I don’t know anything.”

* Burden of guilt: “I feel so sorry for them; how can I turn them down?”

* Bound by duty: “I am the primary caregiver; how can I ever say no?”
There are several drawbacks in being a people-pleaser:

You are overloaded

As a ‘yes woman,’ you create an impression of being someone who is always happy to do things. You give priority to others’ work and compromise on the time you had reserved for your work. Your own life gets the least priority for the sake of being nice to others. 

Your health suffers

Overloaded people are stressed and dissatisfied. Your genuine efforts to make others happy, at the expense of neglecting your health, can have far-reaching physical and emotional consequences like loneliness, depression, anxiety, burnout and loss of self-esteem.

You go through identity crisis

When you are unable to voice your opinion or feelings, other people get used to a people-pleaser and expect you to agree to their needs and wants all the time. They tend to forget that you have your own identity and needs.

How to say ‘no’

It is not about being inconsiderate or egotistic when you have to turn down somebody’s request. It is about having a balanced approach. Sometimes, you have to say ‘yes’, and sometimes ‘no’.

It may seem a bit strange and difficult to say ‘no’ if you are a compulsive ‘yes-sayer’. But consider the power of ‘no’; it can save you time and energy for things that you really care about. It can keep you away from people who take advantage of you. It gives you mental strength and lets you enjoy your life more.

* Restrain from saying ‘yes’ immediately. Making on the spot decisions can put you in a fix. You can always tell a person that you will let them know after you have had time to think about it. 

* Consider the time commitment carefully. Most of us miscalculate the time it really takes to do a task. If you are asked to prepare a report within an hour, check your schedule. If it looks tight, say you can take it up whenever time permits.

* Don’t feel sorry. While it may seem polite to start with “I’m sorry, but...”, it will make you sound weak. Be firm.

* Don’t say ‘yes’ simply because you are capable. You will be presented with several opportunities to express your skills. Consider your time availability, family commitments and other responsibilities before you accept any request.

* Set your priorities. Before you accept a request, take time to consider if you are really willing to spend the time and energy on this new commitment. 

Re-evaluate your priorities when you have too much to handle. Create healthy boundaries that will help you maintain self-respect and enjoy relationships.

* Be very clear while turning someone down. Some people are extremely persistent and don’t get the message, unless you are really firm with them.

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