Yes Graphic incorporating No


How often do you say ‘Yes’ when you really want to say ‘No’?  How do you know that you really want to say ‘No’.

In my last blog, I wrote about being authentic and choosing to do something which we don’t really want to do but we make a choice to do it because of care for another.  What if the thing we are being asked to do goes against what we believe, a pledge we have made to ourselves or is holding us to ransom in its demand.

How do we manage ourselves then?

I’m remembering a particular time when I was asked to do something.  I knew that if I did this thing I would compromise myself.   I wanted to say ‘Yes I will’ because I wanted to avoid conflict, I was fearful of the other’s reaction, yet everything in my body was saying ‘No, I don’t want to do this’.  My body was rigid, my throat was dry, my heart beat faster, my jaw was tight.  I felt like I was falling.

I imagine that you can easily identify your thoughts about not wanting to fulfil a request, you know what they are.  Take a moment now to think about your physical response to saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’.  Your body is a really good indicator of how you feel emotionally.

In the end, I found my courage to say ‘No’.  I was scared of the other’s reaction but I knew I had to be true to myself, it was a pivotal point.  Holding true to myself caused conflict.

If you frequently find yourself agreeing with others rather than being true to yourself you may be what’s termed a ‘people pleaser’ and you may benefit from looking at the reasons for doing it – here are a few tips to help you manage this:

  • Inhibit your response to say ‘yes’ automatically.  Inhibiting a habitual response is the first step in changing behaviour;
  • Give yourself some time instead of responding straight away – take a breath – then respond;
  • Try saying something like ‘I’m not sure, let me think about that and come back to you’.  You might go back and say ‘yes’ but it will give you time to think about how you are responding and the reasons for it.  You might not be ready to say ‘no’ but this is a first stage of working up to it;
  • Saying a straight ‘no’ can cause conflict because it is strong and straightforward. Explaining why may help the situation – ‘I’m sorry can’t do that because …’;
  • A useful phrase is ‘No that doesn’t work for me – what I would like to do is .. ‘ – you are saying ‘No’ and you are offering a point of negotiation.

So saying a straight ‘no’ can cause conflict because it’s not what the other person wants you do to and they may not like it when you say ‘no’.  However, in the workplace, conflict can arise because of a request we are not willing to fulfil but also through a difference of opinion, working conditions, overload of work, confusion etc.  We are not always able to be authentic in a work environment.

Next time I’ll write about strategies to avoid conflict.  Drop me an email and let me know about your strategies.


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