Saying No leads to greater Happiness
We are brought up encouraged to say Yes to all sorts of requests for our time and attention.
We are taught that it is rude to decline an invitation or a request, regardless of our reasons. Poor manners. The height of rudeness.
But what about when we don’t want to say Yes? When saying Yes doesn’t suit us. Or serve our values. What if it diminishes our happiness or takes us away from our serving our greater purpose?
Isn’t it our choice to say Yes or No?
Saying No more often can lead to a dramatic increase in happiness and success. But why?
Many of us are conditioned from a young age to pander to requests and say Yes to almost anything. We are not taught to filter requests and use our discretion in declining requests.
As adults, we develop our own personal policy on requests and invitations. But old habits die hard.
Some examples help to show the importance of saying No.
Work for Free. Do you take your car to a mechanic and ask him to fiddle around with it to see if it runs better. Ask your Accountant to lodge your tax returns for free. Ask the hairdresser to tease your hair. All for free of course. Other than your nearest and dearest (you shouldn’t run out of fingers on one hand here) don’t do this.
‘I want to catch up to pick your brain’. Other than people close to you, avoid this trap. Some people are so bold and have no consideration for your time. It is generally the sister to ‘Work for Free’.
The serial networker. This is the person who overheard your name read out at Starbucks. They have no respect for your time and no interest you. Run the other way. Fast.
The asker of constant favours. It starts off innocently. But one favour becomes three. Then it never stops. Be firm in calling this out civilly. Explain you were happy to help them out but you now have to return to important work. Stick to your guns.
The Needy Friend. Like the asker of constant favours, the Needy Friend uses guilt and your relationship as a sledgehammer. Your patience leads to frustration then resentment. Often requires a courageous conversation to shut this behavior down. Risking or terminating the friendship may be the end game.
Family obligations. We love our family. Don’t we? But they can also drive us completely nuts. Using guilt and emotional blackmail are common tactics here. As adults, we need to move beyond the child we once were. What family members got away with in the past don’t have to continue. Develop a plan that aligns with your values. Don’t explain or complain.
The Stalker. This person is a stranger. They look you up and make contact. They ask you to meet up with them with no premise or clear reason. Your polite attempts to decline their offer to meet together generates a keener and more aggressive barrage of alternative dates to meet. You can never close the loop on an email reply. They always leave it open. If it feels weird. It is weird. Shut it down.
How to reduce or avoid these pitfalls.
Start a pilot program of taking note of all requests or invitations for your time. Commit to increasing the number of times you say No to these. Watch this over time, attempting to say No more and more often.
What will happen?
- You will find that you have more time to focus on your most important work.
- You will spend more time with the important people in your life.
- You will achieve more goals and start more important projects.
- You will be less stressed and have fewer worries as you drop, or cut, the time spent with people drawing on your knowledge and emotional energy.
- You will be happier as you spend more time doing the things you love.
But when should you say Yes?
You can’t say No all the time.
A recent blog The Busy Fool outlined the busy business owner who surrounds himself in work. No-one can ever see him or speak to him because he’s so busy.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should say No to everything. Otherwise, like the Busy Fool, you will create a vacuum where people and opportunities can’t enter your life.
So when should you say Yes?
Important family requests or invitations. Crises. A favour you wish to do. Milestone occasions. Catching up together because you want to without obligation.
Friendships. Crisis. Favours reciprocated. Loyalty based on maintaining a well-balanced emotional bank account. Meeting up together through true friendship, not based on history or obligation.
New Opportunities. If you want to do something for someone, do it with good grace for the right reasons. If you want to connect with someone not known to you from time to time, that’s OK too. Karma sits here.
Other. It’s your call to break the No rule whenever you want to. But have your reasons. Charity work is great if done from the heart without expectation. Community work for your local sporting club, children’s school or community group is great if you are genuine.
The simple rule is to be your higher-self.
Develop a personal policy on saying No and Yes to people in your life.
Monitor and modify this as a pilot program on a trial and error basis.
Be brave and true to yourself. Saying No is all about balance. It’s your life and you only get one.
Say No more.
A great book on this thinking is The Power of No by James Altucher & Claudia Altucher. Available on Amazon.
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Cheers, Darren K Bourke