World-famous billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything”. This point of view might be difficult for most of us to digest. After all, we have been brought up being told that saying ‘yes’ to requests is the right thing to do. While it is nice to do favours for others, if you are excessively occupied trying to please people to the point that it is detrimental to your well-being, it is time to give yourself a break.
Prioritizing yourself first and learning to say ‘no’ to certain things can greatly improve the quality of your life – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
You should say ‘no’ when…
- You know you will regret saying yes
Potential situation: You have had a tiring week and want to spend the weekend to yourself to complete some overdue house chores. However, your friends ask you to a last-minute day trip to the beach which you know will wear you out and delay your chores.
Many people have a knee-jerk reaction, agreeing to requests that people ask of us even if it is a terrible burden on ourselves. However, it is important to emphasize more important duties.
“Respect yourself by acknowledging your own personal limits and boundaries”
- You feel uncomfortable with the request
Potential situation: You might not drink alcohol due to personal beliefs, but a good friend offers you a beer.
An activity that is absolutely fine for one person might be an extreme crossing of the line for somebody else. Respect yourself by acknowledging your own personal limits and boundaries.
- You are not qualified to agree due to lack of abilities and time
Potential situation: You run a part-time home bakery all on your own. Somebody asks you to bake 500 treats at the last minute, which is nowhere near enough time.
Sometimes you just do not have the capability to fulfill somebody’s request. You might end up doing half-hearted or unprofessional work if you say ‘yes’ and end up humiliating yourself.
“Sometimes you just do not have the capability to fulfill somebody’s request”
- You know the work is unprofitable
Potential situation: You are a freelance graphic designer. You get a client who wants detailed, beautiful work but is offering an extremely low pay.
If it is simply not worth it, simply refuse. You are here to maximize profit and minimize loss, not the other way around. Not just in business, but in all aspects of life.
“You have the right to decline without feeling guilty.”
- You know that you are being used
Potential situation: A classmate asks to copy your homework answers for the fifth time this semester and it is driving you mad.
If you know that you are being manipulated or bullied, gather up the strength to boldly say ‘no’. You have the right to decline without feeling guilty.
Some tips for saying ‘no’:
- Be polite and use respectful language when declining
- Be firm and straightforward in your decision
- Avoid lying as you do not want to feel guilty
- Remember the value of your own time and physical / mental health and other commitments you have made
- Realize that saying ‘no’ is a sign of confidence
- Know that your self-worth is not defined by being a yes-man
- Keep your long-term goals in mind
- Offer alternative form of support or propose a different time if relevant
- You do not owe people a long explanation, but a brief reason for refusing will help
“The number one person you must say ‘yes’ to is yourself”
Ignore the urge to say ‘yes’ to everything and be selective of what you agree to. Saying ‘no’ does not mean that you are cold, rude or selfish – it just means that you are taking control of your own life, and that you have a strong sense of self-respect. In the end, you must embrace the fact that the number one person you must say ‘yes’ to is yourself.
Last modified: 11th October 2019