Saying “No” is a skill–and it’s one that I had a particularly difficult time learning. It’s not an uncommon phenomena in women who are taught from a young age to be wary of other people’s feelings…and not to hurt them. It’s an interesting double-edged sword that we learn to balance on; be emotionally aware and intelligent but be aware that your awareness and intelligence can hurt other people’s feelings. Confusing. But what if saying no won’t actually hurt people’s feelings? Now we’re getting into a whole other level of social conditioning that would take me pages to untangle but let’s leave it at that. Saying no to people doesn’t automatically equate to you hurting their feelings.
I was having a conversation with a client today and she was discussing how it felt impossible for her to carve out time for herself and her family because of her work’s all-consuming nature. How do you say “no” when 50 people are expecting you to say “yes” or when your paycheck requires you to say “yes”? So I asked her, “What have you had to say ‘no’ to?” The important part here is understanding that saying no to something doesn’t mean you’re saying no to everything. For example, saying ‘no’ to taking work calls after 7pm doesn’t mean that you’re saying ‘no’ to doing a good job at work. It means that you’re saying ‘yes’ to balancing your work and your life and the reality of that decision is that you’ll probably feel more productive in your work day and feel more fulfilled at work because you’re refilling your cup.
The crucial understanding in all of this is that every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. And for women in the workplace, all too often we’re saying ‘no’ to ourselves, our needs, and our families.
– Coach Lauren