NO seems to be the hardest word

Elton John could be wrong when he sang “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

Recently, I realised “NO” is a very difficult word for many people.

Generally, I don’t like to say no. In the past, whenever someone (especially at work) had a request, I would say yes. A part of me did not want to burn bridges and I always try to avoid confrontations. I also try to compromise and say yes to help my friends whenever they ask, because I hate to disappoint.

I also realised many people cannot accept being told “NO.”  The word “No” is almost a dirty word, people take them personally even when the intentions were good.

Over the years, I’ve learned and grown wiser, thanks to various mentors and close friends in my life who helped put things into better perspective.

I learned that every time we say yes to something, we are actually saying no to something else.

When you say yes to working overtime every day, you say no to your social and family life and personal hobbies. When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to a dream you may have. When you say yes to attending a meeting you are not even sure why you are there, you are saying no to another more important task that you could have done with that time.

Susan Newman, author of “The Book of No” wrote, “By saying no, you can focus on your goals.” Saying yes to everything can damage your reputation and hurt your career (and may I add, your life too).

People (myself included) should learn that saying no is okay. Recently, I said No to a couple of requests and immediately was made to feel bad. I was worried about being rude, seen as being unhelpful and not a good person. Someone told me “maybe you should just agree and do what you are asked anyway.”

The episodes kept me awake. I concluded that there was a reason for saying No. And even after communicating the reason, the recipients pushed back. (Aha, those were always tricky). The guilt doubled!

By saying yes to something I didn’t believe in, I would have to say no to doing the right thing and upholding my beliefs.

A very wise mentor used to tell me, “People (the smart ones anyway) respect you more when you say no to the right things.” Sure, everyone may like you because they can get you to do everything they want for them. But do they really have respect for the guy or for his time?

Now, go ponder. And then learn. This is not a post to encourage people to be lazy at work or be an anti-social being. This is a post of a personal reminder and a revelation that saying “NO” is not a bad thing. Learning to say “NO” is not easy but necessary and there are many benefits that come with it. Practising how to say NO in life and at work can be a challenge but one that everyone should take up.

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