When to Say No
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Obviously, there are times when you should say yes rather than no. If your boss offers you a raise, you would be foolish to say “No thank you.” Alternately, you probably shouldn't say yes to a 50% drop in salary either.
So, when should you say “no”?
You just say no when saying yes means compromising your values, health or wellness.
This means critiquing your choice before you make it. Don't rush into a decision-making process. Sleep on it. Take time to think about the short and long-term ramifications of saying yes versus no.
You can also take the following steps to learn when, and if, you should choose “no” as opposed to “yes”:
- Say no when a short time benefit could create long-term problems. Eating a bowl of your favorite ice cream drowned in chocolate syrup may sound like a wonderful idea now, but is probably not the best thing for your overall health, now and in the future.
- You should probably say no if the only reason you would say yes is out of anger, or some other negative emotion.
- Say no whenever your values are compromised. The things that you value speak to who you are. There is almost never a time when you should let your values, the core things that you believe in, get trampled.
- You should say no when your plate is already full. Taking on another obligation or task does no one any good if you are already too busy to complete it in a timely manner.
- Say no when saying yes makes you feel uncomfortable. Trust your gut instinct, and listen to your feelings.
- You should always say no if you are feeling taken advantage of, or unappreciated.
- Always say no if your physical health and well-being is put at risk.
Just Say No Benefits
Saying no, especially if you are a people pleasing woman (like me), leads to less stress and anxiety. This means better health, and a reduced risk of dangerous and deadly health conditions that stress can cause.
You have more free time to spend on the activities that you love and value.
You become more productive, at business and in your personal life.
When you choose the right time to say no, or yes, you benefit in so many ways.
You are practicing self-care when you say no. Your whole family will benefit with a better more rested “you”.
However, it's not always easy to know which response to make. That's why having a clearly outlined plan of action for making yes/no decisions is so important.
Just Say No Plan of Action
- Take some time to think about your personal boundaries. These include emotional, physical and mental aspects of your belief system.
- Write down a list of the things that you believe in and enjoy.
- Right beside that list, jot down behaviors, actions and activities that you do not support.
Keep this list with you. Add to it frequently. Over time you may see that some behaviors or actions will move from one list to the other. Some of the items on your lists will never move, and these become lifelong values. As Roy E. Disney says, “It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.”
Whenever you have a difficult yes/no decision to make, refer to this list. Take some time to really think out your choices.
What short-term and long-term positive and negative results are involved?
Sometimes a short-term negative can lead to a long-term positive.
For instance, when you exercise, you may feel physically spent, and your muscles may ache. This is a short-term negative. However, frequent exercise can lead to long-term positives such as better health and longevity.
Taking the time to critique a decision before you make it, and referring to your yes/no list, can help you make the right decision every time.
Saying Yes When You Should Have Said No
Not all decisions are easy to make. There are times when you have to practice tough love, and times when you would rather be at the beach with your friends rather than tending to a business obligation. This means that sometimes you will catch yourself saying yes, when you probably should have said no.
If you regret a “yes” decision after making it, don't beat yourself up about it emotionally. You have made your decision. There is no need to add more stress and anxiety to your life by fretting and fussing over the choice you made. If there is any way to get out of the situation, without causing any harm or bad feelings, do so as quickly as possible.
However, if you find yourself stuck, the best choice is to live up to the obligation you made. Put the situation behind you, but make a mental note not to repeat the same mistake again.
You can also keep a journal which you list situations where you made the wrong choice.
Over time you will see regular patterns develop. There will often be times a certain individual or situation consistently has you saying yes when you should've said no. When you notice these patterns, simply limit exposure to that person or event in the future. If you can't limit exposure, practice in private what your response is going to be so when you are faced with the decision you will automatically respond with the right answer for you. (Not the people-pleasing answer)
Saying No Doesn't Mean You Are a Bad Person
Remember that saying no does not mean that you are a bad friend, family member or coworker. It simply means that you don't have time available to handle a particular task, saying yes would mean accepting something you are incapable of doing, or that your decision is driven by beliefs and values you hold dearly.
The important people in your life should not expect you to do more than you can. Unfortunately, you will encounter people who will try to browbeat and intimidate you into saying yes when no is the correct response.
Stand by your belief system. The word no is very powerful. It leaves no room for misunderstanding. It doesn't mean you disrespect someone, don't care for them, or are a bad person.
It just means “no”.