Why can’t we say No?
Updated: Jul 13
Who should read?
Someone who has trouble saying No to figures of authority or loved ones
Someone who says too much No
Sometimes knowing why of a problem is more important than straight away jumping to steps to solve or work around. When I was a child, whoever would treat me nice or teach me something; teachers, dentist, cousins etc., I would feel the need to thank them. I have bought flowers for my dentist, my teachers, my mom and so many more. Their pleasure on receiving the gratitude flowers kicked a special value-ad happiness in me. Since then, I developed a habit to please others. It started getting difficult for me to say ‘No’. With increasing friend and acquaintance circle, I found it hard to please and thank all. However, besides that habit, over time I figured more reasons that I couldn’t say No
Conditioning: Being part of a culture where saying ‘No’ is socially inappropriate or disrespectful. Need to please people as part of conditioning makes it further difficult to say “No’.
Fear: Surrounded by people who can’t listen to ‘No’s. Sometimes, bosses or spouses don’t appreciate a direct ‘No’. There is a certain fear associated on losing an opportunity or person in saying ‘No’
Poor estimator of time and work or being over ambitious: Sometimes we don’t estimate time and work requirements for commitments well. The inability to estimate time leads to higher nods rather the difficulty to say ‘No’. Many a times, I estimate that would reach work in 20 mins and accordingly make further commitments. But the base estimate is wrong.
Not planning personal time: At times, some of us plan official work in journals but don’t plan personal commitments well in advance. Its harder to say ‘No’ in conflicting environments or at last minutes than on initial planning stages
Not knowing the right way to say ‘NO’
Any environmental influences or childhood baggage should be handled well to remove biases. The systematic approach would involve listing the right reasons for the challenge and accordingly customizing the solution. Solutions could involve being better planned on commitments and setting expectations from colleagues (whether senior or junior) and family to honor them, unless flexibility is imperative. A subsequent blog would be dedicated on ways to saying 'No' effectively.
It is important to know why can’t one say ‘No’. Accordingly the biases need to be straightened out.
If you are not a spontaneous person and can’t come up with reasons to refuse a task or proposition, then it is best to say “Let me get back to you”