Why You Need To Say ‘No’ More Often

Sometimes, the more you say yes, the more of yourself you give away. For some reason, most of us feel the need to automatically say yes to things like staying late at work, hanging out with friends, going on dates, tipping a little extra, or random favors.

Humans are naturally social creatures who typically shoot to be socially obliging. Often times saying the word no feels like something wrong or confrontational. It can even feel like a threat to a friendship, bond, or relationship. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean saying yes makes us feel any better. When we dole out the word yes instead of submitting a solid no we tend to overcommit on many levels: time, energy, focus, and money.

“The ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” says Vanessa M. Patrick, an associate professor of marketing at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. “It gives you a sense of empowerment.”

I know I also fall victim to this. Sometimes I find myself avoiding saying no to people who need me, even if that means taking on more than I can handle. The fear of letting people down and not being needed tend to overshadow that simple single syllable word—no. Other times it’s a basic case of FOMO (fear of missing out).

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I know many have said yes because they want to prove something to themselves or their friends, colleagues, boss, family, or partner. Or, they simply say yes in hopes of being well liked. To commit excessively is a bad habit to have and it needs to end, or at least slow down significantly.

Time is of the essence — yes, your time too.

If we keep filling our calendars with unreachable goals and overextended tasks we might just regret it one day. That or it might just become too much and cause us to explode internally because we have become overworked and overwhelmed.

Learning how to say no is simple, yet complex. It’s a skill that should be developed early on but isn’t for the fear of not being enough. It’s a tool that is incredibly important and beneficial for many reasons. Saying no can help you achieve more goals, better your career, promote happiness, and improve your overall wellbeing.

It’s perfectly normal to feel guilty at first, but once you get the hang of filtering out what’s worthwhile and what’s not, you will see an improvement in your personal life. Refining tasks and labeling them as either a priority or a waste of time will quickly become second nature. The more you say no, the more productive you will become.

It’s alright if you cannot see the value in things your friends do. As long as you’re respectful and honest about your decision, you shouldn’t feel anxious or bad skipping drinks on a Tuesday night.

I mentioned FOMO earlier and for a good reason. We live in a time where it’s believed the more you say ‘yes’ the more you will accomplish. This ‘yes’ culture we’re in expects those who grab opportunities by the horns to be the first to get ahead. While that’s not particularly false, it’s also not something that should dictate our every decision.

Sure, we should definitely take advantage of certain opportunities that present themselves. Just like we shouldn’t say yes to everything, we also shouldn’t say no to everything. Finding a healthy balance to committing to things is the most important thing to remember here. Understanding your limits, abilities, and obligations is crucial. Once that is out of the way you’ll be able to operate at the most optimal level, ensuring a happier and less stressful life.


Recap: A few reasons why you should say no more often than not:

  • You are not everyone’s personal assistant
  • Saying no won’t make people hate you
  • It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to your goals and time
  • Your sanity and happiness depend on it
  • You don’t need an excuse
  • It might keep you out of trouble
  • Say no to gain more respect
  • You will create more opportunity for things with real value
  • Helps you become more intuitive
  • Saying no enables you to say yes to things worthwhile
  • It allows you to live a happier and more empowered life

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