No, No, a Thousand Times No
Many women have trouble saying “no.” I have been described as tough and tenacious and strong-willed. Yet, saying “no” is still hard for me, whether it means saying no to my kids, my clients, my friends, or unsuitable suitors.
I was raised as a good girl; one who doesn’t disappoint or discourage. Like many women raised in the 1960s, we were groomed to be nice and accommodating. We were teachers' pets and nurturing girlfriends, wives, and mothers. We were taught to eat our vegetables and complete our homework and be respectful and somewhat passive employees.
After years of saying yes to tasks and people, I am finally starting to realize that too many yes sirs (or yes ma’ams) only leads to resentment…to toxic clients and business relationships…to friends who take advantage. That only results in anger and anxiety. Yes is not always the right answer.
When faced with a choice to take on a project, a request, a date, or even that piece of chocolate cake I know I really shouldn’t eat, I now pause and take a deep breath. If my gut says no, I go with my gut. One can be a “good girl” and still be a “no girl.” I am developing a new lexicon, and I don’t respond with “maybe” or “not now” if I know that the right answer is a definitive “NO!” Some of my favorite new phrases are:
- That’s really not comfortable for me.
- I know that’s what you want/need, but it’s not what I want/need.
- I’ve said yes to those requests in the past and it hasn’t ended well.
- I don’t do that kind of work (or eat that kind of food or spend the time doing those types of things).
Turning things and people down still creates a bit of anxiety and angst. I will listen to persuasive arguments and logic. I can still be persuaded to turn my no to a maybe or a yes if the situation is low-risk. Yet the benefits of no-ing include more time doing things I truly love, an inner circle of friends and clients who have my best interests at heart, and a feeling of tremendous confidence and liberation.
So try it out: Say no at least once this week. And say yes to your own emotional health and well-being!
Nancy A. Shenker is the founder and CEO of theONswitch®, a New York-based marketing company and nunumedia, a publishing venture she launched in 2010 with a line of business comic books. Her latest book, with Lindsay E. Brown, is a guide for young women entering the working world, entitled“Don’t Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Career Secrets for 20-Somethings.” Nancy was formerly a marketing executive at Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and New York University’s publishing program. She conducts workshops and webinars on personal branding, social media, public relations, and e-marketing.Click here to comment.