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Blog Post

The Power of No and Why It Is Important

Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 23, 2019

It was my second annual review meeting at my place of work. I thought my performance that year had been stellar! There was a right mix of projects, stretch assignments and opportunities to do something new. The first part of the discussion was great...however, when we came to the feedback part, I was told that I need to learn how to say no, which will help me prioritize better and focus on things that matter.

I must admit that for starters I was quite appalled at this feedback...say no? Why? I love my job. Shouldn't I be doing all of what I'm expected to do? Isn't that an increase in my efficiency? Isn't that what I was always taught to do? Say YES ?

The legacy of yes and no...

I decided to delve a little deeper into this and started examining what my natural tendencies are and also started doing some research on the subject. The way we have been raised, educated and trained, "yes" has always been celebrated and "no" has always represented negativity. Yes symbolizes how much you value a relationship/person/situation, No stands for you valuing yourself, your time & your priorities.

When is "no" your super power?

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In perspective, though, "no" represents a moment of choice with responsibility. It shows your commitment to what you've said yes to. There is a distinct message you are sending to the universe that this is what I've signed up for based on my goals at work and in life. Saying yes to a task, a role, a job that does not align with your professional goals or saying yes to a social meeting or a chore which is not in sync with how you want to balance life & relationships can ultimately decrease your happiness quotient which is not ideal for you or people around you. We tend to weigh in on the cons as much as the pros of something before making a choice and detach the emotional "credit" that comes with yes. 

Like every super power this one too comes with responsibility :-)

Saying no to things that do not work for us and being negative are two very distinct phenomenons. Yes and no are tools we use to make informed, responsible choices at work and in life. However, saying no without talking about the why, saying no just because you don't feel like it,  or because you're holding old grudges dilutes the experience and ultimately isn't a happy choice to make!  Objectivity is key and if you don't know why you are not up to something, find out! Maybe you'll find a reason that you didn't even know of or maybe you won't...either way you will indulge in a moment of reflection and make a better choice.

So, how has it worked for me?

If you're anything like me, and are wanting to make a start...it is hard and shaky and makes you feel you're the worst! The initial few no's were hard for me but the armor I had was hard logic and the right intent. These two protected me from my own guilt lashing at me and kept my heart & mind safe.  I don't think I'm still there yet...still making good progress!

About the Author

Designer | Consultant | Tech Enthusiast

...with close to 14 years in Learning and Development. I specialize in creating meaningful learning experiences for employees. I have a passion for research and innovation and get great energy from making learning a fun, enriching experience.

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