“No.” “Nope.” “Nah.” “Noon.”
See how simple it is to say one little word? Of course, there will be times when it’s not that easy if you’re used to saying yes all the time. As for women, it’s easier to feel obligated to say yes to things that we’d rather turn down so that we don’t come off as cold, rude, or insulting. Learning how to say “no” is a powerful skill and with practice, you may find it easier to master the gentle art of saying no.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying “no” when you need to. Setting boundaries is one of the most important skills to master for both personal and professional growth. By setting boundaries, we find the freedom to behave in our best interest eliminating the distractions and to take a pass on tasks that don’t make the cut. When you say no to the things that don’t help you, you are, in fact, saying yes to the things that will. By saying no, you open up the space necessary for yes.
People will eventually respect you for disagreeing with them. Saying “no” is not the equivalent of flipping a giant middle finger. It’s quite the opposite. When done well, saying no can be far from mean. There is a way to communicate a negative response in a way that leaves the other person feeling valued and heard. It shows that you prioritize self-care to decline unwanted intrusions. In turn, you stop feeling inclined to please people because you have defined a game-plan of your own.
It also makes you feel really good.
Here is a poem I came across on “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul” which inspired me to write this post. It’s Angela’s Word by Barbara K. Bassett.
When Angela was very young,
Age two or three or so,
Her mother and father
Taught her never to say NO.
They taught her that she must agree
With everything they said,
And if she didn’t, she was spanked
And sent upstairs to bed.
So Angela grew up to be
A most agreeable child;
She was never angry
And she was never wild;
She always shared, she always cared,
She never picked a fight,
And no matter what her parents said,
She thought that they were right.
Angela the Angel did very well in school
And, as you might imagine, she followed every rule;
Her teachers said she as so well-bred,
So quiet and so good,
But how Angela felt inside
They never understood.
Angela had lots of friends
Who liked her for her smile;
They knew she was teh kind of gal
Who’d go the extra mile;
And even when she had a cold
And really needed rest,
When someone asked her if she’d help
She always answered Yes.
When Angela was thirty-three, she was a lawyer’s wife.
She had a home and family, and a nice suburban life.
She had a little girl of four
And a little boy of nine,
And if someone asked her how she felt
She always answered, “Fine.”
But one cold night near Christmastime
When her family was in bed,
She lay awake as awful thoughts went spinning through her head;
She didn’t know why, and she didn’t know how,
But she wanted her life to end;
So she begged Whoever put her here
To take her back again.
And then she heard, from deep inside,
A voice that was soft and low;
It only said a single word
And the word it said was…NO.
From that moment on, Angela knew
Exactly what she had to do.
Her life depended on that word,
So this is what her loved ones heard:
NO, I just don’t want to;
NO, I don’t agree;
NO, that’s yours to handle;
NO, that’s wrong for me;
NO, I wanted something else;
NO, that hurt a lot!
NO, I’m tired, and NO, I’m busy,
And NO, I’d rather not!
Well, her family found it shocking,
Her friends reacted with surprise;
But Angela was different, you could see it in her eyes;
For they’ve held no meek submission
Since that night three years ago
When Angela the Angel
Got permission to say NO.
Today Angela’s a person first, then a mother and a wife.
She knows where she begins and ends,
She has a separate life.
She has talents and ambitions,
She has feelings, needs and goals.
She has money in the bank and
An opinion at the polls.
And to her boy and girl she says,
“It’s nice when we agree;
But if you can’t say NO, you’ll never grow
To be all you’re meant to be.
Because I know I’m sometimes wrong
And because I love you so,
You’ll always be my angels
Even when you tell me NO.”