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When Yes Means No

No.

What is it about this tiny word?

With great ease it flies from the mouths of toddlers. Then somewhere along the way, this simple two-letter word becomes all but unpronounceable.

Next thing you know you’re out for another evening with Mary and Joe, even though you swore to yourself and your spouse you’d never go out with them again. But when Mary spotted you in the grocery store (and you thought you’d done such a good job blending in with the produce!) and loudly proclaimed it was time to get together again, you just couldn’t find where you’d stashed that no word.

Even when you want to say no, yes often feels easier. (Even when there’s nothing easy about having to do what you just said yes to.)

The consequences of no can be scary, especially when you’re talking to a client or your boss. There’s also the not wanting to disappoint anyone or hurt their feelings. And let’s not forget the ever-so- popular, “If I don’t do it, no one will, and someone has to.”

But here’s the irony.

Even if saying that little word – no – is as hard for you as walking barefoot on burning coals, you’re actually saying it all the time.

Why? Because every yes is also a no.

“Sure, I’ll serve on your committee,” is also no to more time with your kids or your exercise program or developing a new skill to further your career.

“Yes, of course!” to the client who just asked to accelerate a deadline is no to attending an important networking meeting or having dinner with a good friend.

Before you say yes to the next request that comes your way, take a moment to assess your other options. Where else could you use your time and energy? Once you decide what your answer is, say both your yes and its accompanying nos out loud. It’s great practice for remembering how to speak that little two-letter word.

And if you make it a habit, you’ll find yourself making more conscious choices…and living your day the way you want to live your life.

“The only person you are destined to be is the person you decide to become.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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