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Saying No - An Addendum

Last year I wrote about the power of learning how to say no and today I want to explore why sometimes we can say no to some people in our lives but not others. Not all people’s opinions carry the same weight for us.

Have you ever noticed how easy it may feel for you to say no to a telemarketer who calls wanting to talk about the latest solar panels offering or the benefits of switching gas companies? And you just politely say, no thanks I’m not interested.

Why is it so easy to say no to them, and so hard to decline an invitation from a senior colleague you admire to participate in a new project at work (when you are already overcommitted)?

The response could be the same in both instances, “no thanks” but it’s not because we’re too busy telling ourselves a story about what might happen if we say no. The story may sound like “I really respect them and it’s an honour to be asked – what will they think of me if I say no” – and lots of other versions our brains will concoct for us. These stories create pressure and when we listen to them we end up believing we don’t have any alternatives, so we say yes.

A common difference in both situations is the value we are placing on the other person’s opinion of us. We don’t mind what the telemarketers think, so we say no and move on with our day. But we care about our colleague's opinions and because it’s important that they regard us well, we end up saying yes when we want to say no.

You can check out my earlier blog HERE to explore more about the fallout of saying yes when we mean no, but for today I want you to start noticing the people in your life that you may struggle with saying no. For some of us, it could be our closest loved ones whom we don’t want to disappoint and for others, it may be strangers who don’t know us, and we want them to think well of us, so we say yes. Or maybe we struggle to say no to everyone.

Regardless, the struggle comes from our thoughts about them and the story we tell ourselves about what it means to them if we say no (which is kind of ironic because we have no idea about what that story may be).

Let’s get curious. Who are the people you can’t say no to? What stories do you tell yourself about what will happen if you say no? Notice how these stories are keeping you stuck in the perpetual cycle of saying yes when you mean no.

What are some new stories you can tell yourself that make it easier for you to say no when you want to? Now start practising saying no and notice what happens. Remember, it may feel risky and uncomfortable for you at first because you haven’t done it before so you can always start small. Start saying no to others, so you can say yes to yourself and your dreams.

If you want to learn more about how to say no to people in your life, book your free Time Design session with me by clicking on the clock!

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