Steve Jobs once said that ‘It is only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.’ “No”, despite being a small word that packs a lot of power, it also carries with it an invisible force that can make it feel like overly oppressive, or even like a dirty word. As women, we are often inclined to always say yes to certain situations because we are dubbed as the species that keeps the peace and nurtures individuals by making them happy. This then involves saying yes to certain individuals because it makes them happy, even when we aren’t happy because we’re often taught that saying “no” is a negative thing, that it hurts those around us and causes us to miss out on new, exciting opportunities. It’s no wonder so many people are uncomfortable saying it.
However, the truth is, when you say “no,” you’re not saying “I hate you,” and you’re not insulting someone, you’re simply exercising your right to say “no.” Because it is a right, not a privilege. By saying no, it means you are setting boundaries for yourself, and this is of paramount importance because it means, you will be fostering to have a healthy relationship with self and others. Saying No gives us this power by freeing up our time and allowing us to focus on the pursuits that truly excites and energizes you.
All in all, the truth lies with the fact that sometimes we want to please people to put others’ objectives above our own. It is rather unfortunate that we always want to reassure and make others feel good.
Thus, it is important to always give yourself a moment to pause, assess the situation and decide if it’s really beneficial to you and others. What if “no” would result in a better outcome for both parties? Saying “no” doesn’t have to mean you’re being self-serving. Say, for instance, a coworker asks you to crank out a last-minute project over the weekend. You could agree to do so immediately, as you want to be seen as a team player, but when you really think about it, there are flaws in your coworker’s idea. If you follow through on this project, you’ll not only be wasting your time working on something that hasn’t been properly thought out, but you’ll also be taking time away from your family and friends over the weekend. The power of no can be beneficial for all parties involved sometimes.
Saying “I choose not to,” “Not at this time” and “That will not work for me”, are all different ways to say “no” that doesn’t feel quite as harsh. Practice turning others down and get more comfortable in your right to say no. And remember, it is your right to decide how you spend your time. Remember, it sets boundaries.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper.