I would highly recommend this Psychology Today article, because really, you can't say things much better than Psychology today. The little article summary hits the nail on the head:
"Wielded wisely, No is an instrument of integrity and a shield against exploitation. It often takes courage to say. It is hard to receive. But setting limits sets us free."
I have to admit, that the times I have said "no", whether professionally or personally, on important matters, have been the times were people have viewed me or looked at me with more respect than had I just gone along with the much easier yes.
But let's face it. Saying yes is a lot easier. Why do we say yes so much? Sometimes we say yes, because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, because we want to be part of a group and not stand out, because we don't want to dissappoint, because we don't want to admit that our plates are too full, we don't want to give the impression that we "can't handle something" , because saying "no" is somehow related to being negative.
Professionally, it has often been my job to be the one to say "no". I had to learn that, but over time I have actually become quiet good at it. And I actually enjoy it. That doesn't mean that I look for opportunities to say "no", but I am not the type to shy away from these types of conversations. Quiet the opposite.
but I don't always succeed: A while back I went to a job interview. I knew after the first interview that it wasn't for me. The recruiter I worked with kept trying to sell me the company. Over and over and over. Despite me having said "no", I was being pressured to go for a second interview. I did, just to come out with the same view "this is not for me". And again the recruiter tried to push me to go to a third interview (the argument was that maybe the HR Director for the local office wasn't able to give me a true idea of the corporate culture and maybe the CEO could, to which I responded that if she cannot give me a true idea of the culture, then she's probably in the wrong job). FINALLY my "no" was being heard. But wow, was it hard work and wow did I struggle, because I was torn between liking the recruiter and knowing that this wasn't right.
Personally, saying no is a lot harder. Great example: A friend is putting together a group gathering. It morphs from "just the girls" to "the girls and a bunch of other people". I was all on board to have a night out with the girls, but frankly, very little interest to have a night out with a bunch of blokes and girls. So I said "no". Even told my friend that I definitely want to see the girls, but I am really not up for seeing everyone else. Now, I know this can backfire. It could easily become "She won't come out with us anyway", but I choose to communicate clearly as to why I made that decision and I can only trust that my reasoning is being heard.
From the article: "The strength we draw from saying No is that it underscores this hard truth of maturity: The buck stops here. No is both the tool and the barrier by which we establish and maintain the distinct perimeter of the self. No says, "This is who I am; this is what I value; this is what I will and will not do; this is how I will choose to act." We love others, give to others, cooperate with others, and please others, but we are, always and at the core, distinct and separate selves. We need No to carve and support that space."
I think getting more comfortable with the little word "no" is one of the best things about growing and maturing. And as many of the people around us grow and mature, they understand that as well. I found the Psychology Today article enlightening and I hope you do too.
When do you struggle with saying "no"?