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As parents, we are faced with saying “no” more times than we care to count.

                                     “No, you cannot stay up past your bedtime”

                                     “No, you cannot jump off the top bunk”

                                     “No, you cannot cut your sister’s hair”

However at work, or in social circles, we often find ourselves faced in situations where we really could benefit from saying “no”, but somehow lack the courage to do so.

Courage is defined as the ability to confront fear, danger, uncertainty or intimidation.

If you ask most people why they say “yes” when they really mean “no” it is often because they fear disappointing someone, even if it is at their own expense.

  • Your co-worker asks you to stay late to work on a project, but that means that you will miss your daughter’s t-ball game, but you reluctantly say yes…
  • You are asked to head a committee at church, but you know deep down inside you are already stretched in too many directions as it is, yet you still say yes….
  • You’ve been working late every night this week so your son asks you to buy him another video game and out of guilt you say yes, even though he has plenty at home….

Saying “no” is an art form. It takes understanding, the ability to offer an alternative solution, empathy, and courage. Perhaps next time you will:

  • Express your commitment to the project, but suggest taking your work home, so you don’t have to miss your daughter’s game.
  • Offer thanks for having faith in you to head up the committee, but explain that you don’t have the proper time to dedicate. Suggest helping assist, as opposed to shouldering all the responsibility yourself.
  • I know mother’s guilt only too well, but one thing I have learned is that my kids want my time above all else. Offer to spend some extra one on one time with your kids, as opposed to rewarding them with material gifts.

Don’t make the mistake of saying yes out of guilt.  I used to all the time, but I am finally beginning to learn my limitations.  I know when I am overextended I get snappy with my husband, kids, and frankly I am miserable to be around.

I realize there are times when you are going to have to suck it up and do something your boss asks, or that you really don’t want to do; but the next time you’re faced with a choice and have the option of saying no, do so with a smile; offer an alternative, and above all else, make sure that you remain approachable for the next time.

Calendar clutter is a leading cause of stress and frustration. Know your limitations, remember what’s important and find your courage.

courage to say no-stephen covey