We’re all conditioned to avoid conflict and say yes
When we do say “yes” instead of an honest “no”, we often feel like we let ourselves down and, at the same time, resentful of the person who asked us
Why do we do it?
You want to help. You are a kind soul at heart. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.
Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude. This thinking is common in Asia culture, where face-saving is important. Face-saving means not making others look bad.
Wanting to be agreeable. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement. So you confirm to others’ requests.
Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her. This might lead to an ugly confrontation. Even if there isn’t, there might be dissent created which might lead to negative consequences in the future.
Fear of lost opportunities. Perhaps you are worried saying no means closing doors. For example, one of my clients’ wife was asked to transfer to another department in her company. Since she liked her team, she didn’t want to shift. However, she didn’t want to say no as she felt it would affect her promotion opportunities in the future.
Not burning bridges. Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. It might lead to bridges being burned and relationships severed.
We have a need to see ourselves and have others see us as a “good person”, one who cares about others, who is willing to help out, to make a contribution. At the same time, we want to take care of ourselves and our important needs and wants. When we agree to do things we really don’t want to do, we pay a very high price–increased stress, less energy, resentment, lower self-esteem. On the other hand, when we say “yes” and we really mean it, we give our full effort, energy, motivation and creativity.
The key here is finding a balance between meeting your own needs and helping other people meet theirs. Ask yourself: “What are my needs?” “How much of my time, energy and resources do I need to meet them?” “What do I genuinely want to do for others?” “How much of my time do I want to give to helping others meet their needs?”
Each person will find different answers to these questions. The important thing is to find the balance that works for you.
Learn to weigh your priorities so that in the long term it will benefit your health, not hamper it. Saying no doesn’t mean you are a ‘bad’ person; it simply means you have to set your own priorities and boundaries. It means you respect yourself and in return others will respect you too. That in and of itself is very empowering!