In 2008, there was a movie called "Yes Man" starring Jim Carrey where he challenged himself to yes to every opportunity. Suddenly, he sees progression in every portion of his life. But despite all the good things coming, he realized that saying "yes" to absolutely everything can sometimes lead to undesired outcomes.
It's so easy to be spread out thin. There are always requests being made on your time -- from your friends, from your family, from your work. It's easy to commit to everything and not get anything done. When you look back, it can feel defeating to not have accomplished much with your time.
Let's be honest; it feels nice to say yes. We are all people-pleasers to a certain degree. There is a part of us that just wants to fit in with the group. We have a hard time saying no when it feels like you are letting someone down. Sometimes, we don't say "no" so that we can preserve the relationship.
How to say "No"
Throughout the years, I've gotten really good at saying "no." This has led to good things, and I was able to achieve the goals I had at the time. But at the same time, saying "no" has certain downsides, such as: losing relationships, stop getting invited to events, or people stop counting on you for help on certain things.
Here are some tips for saying "no" in a way that is genuine and real, while limiting the fallout on the other side.
1. Be Honest
Honesty is always the best policy. If someone invited you to a happy hour but you have a deadline coming up, lovingly explain to that person you are sorry and you will not be able to make it because you need to meet your deadline.
If your boss is overwhelming you with work, explain to them that what they want is unrealistic. We often overcommit at work and we end up disappointing everyone. Commit to what you know you are able to do, but be ready to say "no" if they are just asking for too much.
If someone is asking you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, just say "no"! It's not your responsibility to help get people what they want. People will often apply pressure to get things to go their way, and that's more on them than on you.
The key here is not to lie. You don't need to make up any excuses. Ultimately, it's your life and you make the decisions to create the life that you want.
2. Don't Feel Bad
Don't feel guilty when you practice saying "no". It's not your fault when you are not able to do what the other person wants. Life goes on. Don't feel compelled to say "yes" just to please people.
If someone starts making you feel bad just for saying "no" to them, it's more of a reflection on them than on you. If your boss is being unreasonable, no tantrum in the world will get them what they want (unless you're Steve Jobs). If your friend gets mad that you won't go to their happy hour, it still doesn't change the fact that you have a deadline to adhere to.
Don't start feeling guilty for the things that are out of your control, focus on the things that are within your control to change. saying "no" doesn't make you a bad person, rather, you are a person who has their priorities aligned.
3. Understand Your Priorities
If you have goals and priorities in your life, you probably have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish each and every day. When you have a good understanding of what is important and what is not, you will know when to say "yes" and when to say "no".
When something aligns with your priorities, character, and values, it might be something to say "yes" to. But if something will distort you and take you further from your ideal self, say "NO"! Don't lose yourself to become someone else's dream for you (cue Sandy from Grease).
Once you have a clear understanding of your priorities and who you are trying to become, it gets a lot easier to say "no" to things.
4. Be Compassionate
Even when you say "no" to people, it's important to still have empathy for them. Do you understand their side of the situation?
If it's your boss, maybe they feel compelled to lash out because they are also under a lot of pressure from above. If it's your friend, maybe they feel rejected because you're not coming out to their event. If it's your family, maybe they aren't able to do something without your help.
When you are compassionate and you have empathy for the other person's situation, you will be able to take the path of love. Most of the time, people are angry because they feel misunderstood, rather than the facts of a situation.
You can defuse the situation by letting that person know that you understand what they must be going through. Just that simple acknowledgment of their internal battle will help defuse the situation.
Learning to say "no" can change your life. Saying "no" doesn't mean you don't like that person. It just means that what they are asking you to do doesn't align with who you are trying to become. When you practice saying "no", it can be challenging at first. There is always that internal pressure to make someone happy. But what someone wants out of you might not be what's best for you. Once you find peace with this fact, you will be able to discover focus and purpose in your life.