The Value of "No"

Alysia Leak

As a woman of any age, you are prompted to be agreeable. Here are five reasons why saying "No" becomes a benefit.

1. It shows others your willingness to say "No":

Assertiveness is lacking when a person struggles to refuse. Others may see this attempt to maintain harmony as an invitation to "wipe their feet" because it does not seem to bother the "mat" one way or the other. This lack of assertiveness typically makes the person being used feel as if the world is not treating her well. She may inadvertently become passive-aggressive and (while still saying "welcome") lift a corner of the mat to make the users trip.

2. You are freed from doing more work:

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tasks that need completion? By then, it is too late to realize you could have dropped at least three projects before ever putting them on the agenda. It feels good to get things accomplished. You may feel able to take on the world, but taking on too much can make one feel inadequate because of her inability to complete the multitude of tasks. Remember this: you are human. While overbooking the schedule, be sure to include some "me" time and let someone else volunteer for the challenges.

3. It gives people a reason to respect your "Yes":

If every time a child asks for a cookie you say "Yes," the child will no longer recognize any requirements for getting a cookie… (say as a reward for getting good marks during school). Furthermore, the child may go get cookies without permission with the thought that you are "alright with it". If the child has to work to get the cookie, then suddenly he understands the value of the reward and appreciates that you allowed it. Your "Yes" becomes respected because you said "No" first.

4. You make the point publicly:

Just because you say "No" does not mean you always get your way. However, saying it allows you to show disagreement with the overall outcome. Female Supreme Court Justices can relate to this. When a ruling is conveyed, it is presented as an overall decision of the court despite the many arguments and verbal interruptions from subordinates. Upon further inspection, one can see the cohesiveness of a decision based on agreement in votes. Even if the outcome is not favorable, saying "No" allows you to take a stand that is recognized in the surrounding environment.

5. You get to be genuine:

When you refuse to say "No", you miss out on being your authentic self. People will have trouble identifying your values because you will also have trouble identifying them. You stop being WHO YOU ARE and become WHAT OTHERS WANT YOU TO BE. This does not help anyone because you are a unique and valuable individual whose input (adverse or not) creates a perspective that others in the "yes" crowd may not consider.

Saying "Yes" can be the easier way to deal with others. However, if you do not feel good about something, then maybe there is a meaning behind the opposition. Take some time to consider the decision, practice saying "No" to things that are conflicting, and stick to the decision… ultimately you will be happier for it.