If you type “saying no” into any internet search engine you will find yourself swamped with articles, life hacks, psychological practices, images, quotes and more. All of them share one thing – they all tell you that saying no is good. They advise you to not feel guilty, they advise you to use the word as a sentence and they advise you to not enter into discussion after you’ve given your answer. All of this is reasonable advise, especially if you’re a people pleaser – we all need to let go of some of the burdens we carry daily and practising saying no, can lead to greater contentment in life.
Can you feel the “but” coming?
But when is saying no as detrimental to your life as never saying it? How does saying no to an event or a request or a work task effect the person on the receiving end of the rebuttal? If you look through the plethora of posts, it seems that no one has really taken this into consideration. First person positive is the only view point. The focus, from my reading, is on making yourself feel better, on remaining productive without being overly stressed and allowing yourself to stroke your ego without the hindrance or inconvenience of someones emotional state. This feels like a short term answer to what could become a long term problem.
Transfer this to a busy work environment. A team reports to a manager who in turn reports to another manager and so on and so forth. I imagine this is pretty familiar for a lot of people. This team works together successfully and provides quality outcomes for the business and everyone is happy. Everything continues on in this fashion until one day, someone in the team discovers the manager is saying no to the majority of requests coming down the line because it will create change within the workload of the team. The initial reaction of the team members is relief. They’re grateful someone is watching out and protecting them from having more to do in a day than is possible. One day, though, the bubble bursts and the team discovers they’re one of the worst performing because they’ve had core knowledge held from them. They discover that to do their jobs to the demanded standard, they must now undergo intensive training to catch up. Now, instead of a happy team, there is a splintered group of individuals who feel humiliated and exposed because of one little word, no.
The moral of this cautionary tale is to, by all means, keep saying no to things that are of no use or are harmful or that you simply don’t want to do but always remember, your choices will have consequences – small or large – and you might not even be aware of them.