XL Coaching

Saying ‘no’ when we want to say ‘no’

In a recent life skills workshop one participant said, ‘A colleague asked me to do something for her and I so wanted to say no. She saw this and said “you can say no” and still I found myself saying yes.’ As the conversation continued, it seems she’s not the only one.

As dutiful sons and daughters we have learnt to be good. Being good involves pleasing others and meeting their expectations. We say pleasing things. We say ‘yes’ when we want to say ‘no’.

Many of us associate saying ‘no’ with being bad. We fear that if we say ‘no’ people won’t like us or that conflict might ensue.

Often the only time we’ve experimented with saying ‘no’ is when we’ve arrived at the end of our tether and blurted it out in a way that’s explosive. Of course, people don’t like us when we get angry and so the behavioral pattern is reinforced.

For those of us who are trying to be true to ourselves, being good and saying ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no’ is linked to dishonesty.

This can be especially challenging in the workplace or with clients, whom we’re supposed to please.

Whilst I appreciate that there are times when we have to tow the status quo line, it doesn’t mean we can’t express what we really think and how we actually feel.

If we want to be more honest, we have to let go of our ‘yes-ness’.

In saying ‘no’ when we want to say ‘no’, we find that the sky does not fall in and we take the first step on the path towards authenticity.