We used to joke about the guy at work who always said No. To everything, no matter what. His name was Jerry, but we called him “Mr. No,” We were always thinking about ways to get him to say Yes. It’s interesting in hindsight; I now realize his No’s didn’t always stay that way. Of course, No was the default, but only as the means to have the space to think about it and change his mind if he wanted to.
I’ve also had the experience of noticing empowered women who can say No, and say it in a way that doesn’t come across as disrespectful, harsh, or as negating your ask.
I have to say; it’s beautiful when it happens; even if it’s me, it’s happening to.
As a high-performing woman who knows all the balls you are trying to keep in the air, No is necessary, not an option.
If you don’t say No for yourself, you’re saying Yes to everyone and everything around you. That’s bad enough, but when you don’t say No to support yourself, from a mindset perspective, you are actually planting the seed in your unconscious that you aren’t worth it. Oh my!
Haven’t we had enough of the Negative Nellie’s in our heads that tell us we aren’t good enough, don’t have what it takes, aren’t worth it, and more? And, now we add to it by doing this to ourselves?
No! There, I said it. It’s time to stop devaluing ourselves by saying Yes to things we actually don’t want. It’s time to learn how to say No at work and home.
Saying No allows us to take ownership of our actions and our results as a woman. But first, we have to learn how to say No for ourselves before we can say No in our work, for our teams, for the company’s vision when those tough choices are required.
Here are some tips I share with my audiences to start them on the path of embracing the word No.
- Know exactly why you are saying No.Be very clear about what it costs you to say Yes. You’re not reacting to their ask; you are making an educated decision.
- Don’t couch it.This means when the answer is No, don’t try to couch it and say instead, “I’ll try” or “I’ll see how I can work it in.” If it’s a No, then say so. Because you are either putting the burden on yourself and trying to figure out how you can get it all done, OR you’re kicking the can down the road to when you hit the wall and have to say No then.
- Stand your ground.It’s funny, or perhaps not for you that some people refuse to hear the word No when spoken to them. It’s like they have a filter that omits the word from being heard or thinks it doesn’t apply to them. So, they’ll ask again and again. Be firm with your answer and stick to it. Don’t try to over-explain; that’s when you end up backtracking and saying something you wish you didn’t, like Yes.
- Bargain with them.Sometimes you’re in a position when you can’t say No directly. Like with your boss, right? That’s when you can bargain. It might sound like, “I’m not able to stay late on Wednesday, but I can stay late or come in early tomorrow.” You’re saying no to one option and instead, creating new possibilities for consideration, but that works better for you. It could also be, “I am happy to take this on, and with everything I have going on, what would you suggest I move back?” This informs them of what you are currently working on (which they might not know) and takes some of the burden off you.
- Start small. If you’re not used to saying No, then you’ve got to get yourself in the habit,and that requires time and repetition. Practice makes permanent. Start choosing in favor of you wherever you can and start building from there. This is a process of letting out the empowered woman who is inside of you. Start letting her out!
This is also a journey that I’m on the path with you. I am learning to make educated decisions about what I really want and say Yes when I mean it and No when I mean it too. It’s a bit scary when you consider all of the relationships we have in our lives, but it’s liberating too!
Until the next time, here is wishing you all the Clarity you deserve and the power of an educated No!