How Often Do You Say No?

Stop saying YES!
Stop saying YES!

Do you have a hard time saying no?

Do you feel guilty when you say no to the bake sale, spending time with people that you don’t really want to see, buying those girl scout cookies, donating money to charity or any one of the other million things that we get asked in a normal week?

Steve Jobs once said, “It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Try to do to much…let’s be honest, don’t we all tend to do this at times? Saying no is hard!

Saying yes to everything, however, is exhausting, stressful and actually bad for your body. Trust me I am a doctor!

As I have written here before, stress is related to a whole ton of health issues including but not limited too…heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and a whole host of others.

Why would we say yes to so many things that we would increase our own stress levels and potentially make ourselves sick?

It’s actually quite simple…we hate confrontation and feel like we would be letting people down if we said no to them…even if we knew it was going to stress us out.

In one of four studies earlier this year in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Dr. Vanessa Bohns and her team had 25 college students ask 108 strangers to vandalize a library book by writing the word “pickle” in ink on one of the pages. While many of the strangers protested, or asked the students to take responsibility for any repercussions, half of the strangers agreed to deface the book—much more than the average of 29% that the students predicted.

According to Dr. Vohns, “Saying “no” feels threatening to our relationships and that feeling of connectedness.” And we worry that saying “no” will change the way the other person views us, and make him or her feel badly.

The sad reality is that saying no is a rejection and no one likes getting rejected. Studies have shown that the negative effect of no is more powerful than the positive effect of a yes.

Some of this also comes from us and how much we perceive the person will judge us or be disappointed in us. The experts say we need to relax a bit here. We think someone is going to judge us much more harshly than they actually do.

Yes, most of it is in our heads.

Now, if we are going to get serious about saying no, let’s discuss a couple of strategies on how to say no more effectively.

  • Say no in a nice understanding tone and don’t be afraid to blame external circumstances.
  • Stick to your guns! No means no…once, twice or a thousand times
  • If someone gets you when you least expect it, do not be afraid to tell them you will get back to them.

Last thing to remember, time is one of the few commodities that you cannot buy. We all get the same amount of seconds, minutes, hours etc. Protect this commodity like the treasure that it is…your life may depend on it.

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