Saying Yes or Saying No? That is the question.

The word YES can have such a big impact on our lives. Saying yes to something can make you open to new possibilities, new opportunities and new experiences.

At the same time, saying yes can also be limiting. It can tie you into doing things you might not want to do. This makes us ask the question, ‘Is it bad to say yes?’

What does it mean to be a Yes Man or a Yes Woman?

A Yes Man or Yes Woman is considered someone that usually says yes when something is asked of them. A Yes Person is a people pleaser. They have a tendency to say yes to everything because it is what others want them to do. They tend not to make the decision of saying yes because they actually want to.

Instead, they make their decision based on what they think is expected of them. They simply focus on the fact that it will please someone else.

A Yes Person also has a tendency to agree with other people’s opinions instead of sticking up for their own views.

Yes and No ticked on a checklist

There is always a choice in saying Yes

While we always have the choice to say yes to things in life, we need to make sure that we say yes to what actually aligns with our beliefs and visions and not just because it pleases others.

Trying to sort out our lives means we need to think about what we want to do. This means also thinking about what we don’t want to do.

Yes, admittedly, there are some things that we don’t always have a choice about. Paying bills and paying our taxes, for example, are things we may not want to say yes to. We say yes because we have to.

Frustrating, I know!

However, for most things in life, we have a choice. We may not always love options we have but at least there is always an option.

Two sides to being a Yes Person

We need to be careful about what we fill our time with and what we agree to.

In some cases it has become ‘fashionable’ to be a Yes Man or a Yes Woman. The concept is that you say yes to whatever you are invited to in order to have new experiences and do things you normally might have said no to. (This is the idea that Yes Man with Jim Carrey follows.)

This might be a good way of looking at things if you tend to be introverted and are looking to expand your life experiences and social habits.

Being a ‘Yes Person’ might help if you are trying to shift from spending a lot of time on your own to wanting to connect more with other people.

It may also open the doors to new opportunities. It can be a way to take life into your own hands and ‘seize the moment’.

On the other hand, if you already have a full plate and know what it is you want to do (and not want to do), then saying yes might be a hindrance. I might get in the way of what you are really trying to achieve.

It can also develop into a habit of saying yes to things simply because you’ve gotten used to saying it.

Saying yes when you have no real interest can be all consuming habit. It can be time consuming, not to mention mentally consuming, too.

Is it bad to be a Yes Man or Yes Woman?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether to say yes to something or not. The whole concept of being a Yes Person comes with mixed feelings. This complicates the simple decision of saying yes or no even more.

Some may see saying yes as a sign of weakness – someone who doesn’t stick up for themselves and what they truly want.

Yet, on the other hand, saying yes can be seen as someone adventurous, someone willing to try new things or someone reaching for success.

Saying yes can make you come across as agreeable and approachable – someone dependable.

But are either of these assumptions completely fair and accurate?

No.

(See? I’m not a Yes Woman!)

You see, there is no right or wrong way. There is no quick answer. There is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to saying yes.

We do it for different reasons and each yes has to be thought about carefully.

Something to ask yourself before saying yes

The one underpinning questions you should always think about before saying yes to anything is simply this…

Does this align with my values? Do I agree with what is being said?

If we are trying to declutter our lives, this includes ridding ourselves of the constant pressure of living up to someone else’s expectations.

If it’s your life then it should be YOUR expectations you are trying to meet – not someone else’s.

Man in suit giving thumbs up saying yes
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Saying yes at the workplace

There are times when the decision to make is slightly harder.

The work place!

For instance, at work you might not always feel like you are in a position to say anything but yes when dealing with your boss. However, you don’t necessarily have to say yes.

There are other options in life than just saying yes or no.

For one, you could come up with an alternative suggestion, a different solution to the problem at hand. This could be the basis for a discussion that doesn’t corner you into having to say yes.

Alternatives to saying Yes to the boss

Think about why you want to say no to something.

Is it because you don’t agree with it?

Maybe it’s too time consuming or too complicated (or boring!).

Whatever the reason, can you come up with an alternative strategy that works in both your favours?

If you are struggling with time management, would it be possible to ask for an extension? Is there someone else who could help with the project?

Would you be able to delegate some tasks to someone? This could free up some of your time to deal with the new request.

Again, it may not always be possible but the important thing to remember is that just because you have a boss doesn’t mean you have to be a Yes Man or Yes Woman. You still have a voice, an opinion, a say in what you do or don’t do.

At the forefront, however, you do need to remember what you signed up for when you took on your job.

If what you are being asked to do was part of the job role you signed up for, then it may just be a case of having to bite the bullet and do the task.

What is a Yes Man in a relationship?

When it comes to friendships and relationships, it’s hard to decide what is best. After all, a relationship is all about give and take. You are there to support each other and we all have to make some sacrifices here and there.

A Yes Person in a relationship is someone that always wants to please the other person. They will do what they are asked to do, regardless if it pleases or inconveniences them.

In a relationship, a yes person will almost always put the needs of the other person before their own.

When to say No in a relationship

Because relationships are so important in life, there can be a blurred line when trying to decide what reasonable expectations are within a relationship.

For example, a friend asks you to go to a baby shower that you don’t want to go to. You don’t like baby showers. You find them boring and you really aren’t close with the person having the baby.

What are your options?

You could say yes just to please your friend.

You could say no because you really have no interest in going and the host isn’t expecting you there either.

How important is saying yes to your friend?

Is it a make-or-break deal in the friendship? If no, then you really don’t have to go.

Yes, it would please your friend if her bestie came along with her but it really isn’t a pressure you have to succumb to.

What is the worst that could happen if you said no? Your friend might simply beg a little more and eventually accept that you’re not coming and get over it.

Life will go on.

Respect yourself

Saying no to things you really don’t want to do is completely fine.

What’s important to know is that saying no is not an excuse to be rude or incompassionate. It doesn’t mean you only care about yourself.

What it does mean is that you respect yourself enough to know what your limitations are within a relationship. Knowing these limitations will help influence how you decide.

It’s ok to say No

In any good relationship there are times when we really, really want someone else to do something for us that we know they don’t want to do.

We may playfully ask them again and again in hopes to convince them but the end result wouldn’t end with us threatening them with our friendship or making them feel guilty for not doing what we wanted.

We would get over it and understand that they are entitled to make their own decisions. That is the way it should be in a fair and respectful relationship.

It’s ok to say no.

Two hands connecting to make a heart
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The importance of reflecting on relationships

What’s in it for me?

Unfortunately, not all relationships are equal.

What if your friend decided that you not accompanying her to the baby shower was a make-or-break deal? What if you are given a big guilt trip on why you should be coming?

If you don’t come, they will be angry with you and it will cause an issue.

At this point, what you really need to think about is how valuable this friendship is to you. Is it an imbalanced relationship where you are always sacrificing your time and effort for them but not getting much back in return?

Is this a toxic friendship where you don’t actually get to be who you are and are always conforming to what their needs are?

Are you being taken advantage of because of your tendencies to say yes to their requests?

Is it even a relationship worth having? Simply put, ask yourself, ‘What’s in it for me?’

In any healthy relationship, the people who are important to you should respect your values and know that you are entitled to say no.

Don’t let relationships get damaged by being a Yes Person

Are you sacrificing your other friendships and relationships in order to please other people?

You might initially think that you are doing what is best by trying to make someone happy and do as they have asked you to.

However, have a think about how your friendships and relationships might be suffering because of your tendencies to say yes.

Are you often late to events and social gatherings because you were busy just doing something for someone?

Ask yourself…

Do you often have to cancel or back out of plans because something else has come up that you have agreed to do?

Have you had to say no to the same person numerous times because you have already said yes to something else?

Do you miss a lot of your children’s sports games, school plays, dance classes, etc. because you’re busy doing something for someone else?

If any of these happen frequently, it can start to affect your friendships because they will start to feel like they are never your priority. 

In order to foster good relationships, you need to be more aware of what you want and what your priorities are. If a strong relationship is a priority, strive for balance.

When saying Yes can be a good thing

Although technically no one wants to do anything they don’t want to do, there are times when saying yes might be the better option.

If someone you have a good relationship with asks you to do something that isn’t necessarily something you’d want to volunteer for, sometimes saying yes shows that you value your friendship.

Take, for example, the situation of a friend asking you to babysit their child.

On first thought, I’m sure you have more exciting plans than babysitting. However, when you take a moment to think about it, what would it mean to them if you said yes? How often have you already done this favour for them?

If she asks you all the time to babysit for her, maybe it’s time to suggest to her to look for a babysitter.

However, if this isn’t a normal occurrence, you may consider it.

Yes, by all means you could say no. No one said you had to babysit. But when you take a minute to think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if you helped your friend be able to go to a concert she really wanted to go to? If you didn’t have any other plans, it could be quite an easy decision so make.

As it turns out, your friend did try to get a babysitter but they cancelled at the last minute and asking you was their last hope.

By you saying yes, it means they don’t miss the concert and they won’t have wasted their money on the tickets. You also know that they weren’t trying to take advantage of you as a free babysitter.

They genuinely needed your help and isn’t this what friends are for?

Your friend will know that you are there for them when you need support – and I’m sure they will be there for you when the day comes that you need a favour from them.

No written on paper
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Why is saying No so difficult?

We often fear saying no to someone because we don’t want them to feel rejected or feel like it is personal. We often say yes simply to avoid any awkward situations or to avoid feeling guilty.

Saying yes is just easier.

According to Real Simple, Professor Vanessa Bohns from Cornell University, who holds a PhD in social psychology, explains, “We have an instinctive need for connection to other people—it’s essential to our survival. We worry that saying no will break these bonds.”

This is why saying no can feel so challenging. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feeling risk damaging a relationship.

Saying no is not something that comes natural to many of us. It is a skill we must practice. But saying no doesn’t have to be rude or inconsiderate.

Here are a few tips on how to start saying no when you don’t want to say yes!

Tips on how to say No

Pick your priorities

▶ Decide what matters most to you. What are your priorities? This way, if something being asked will get in the way of your top values, you can understand why saying no is ok. So get clear on what you are not willing to sacrifice.

Create boundaries

▶ For instance, if you know that Saturdays are always for family outings and spending time with your kids, don’t say yes to something that would interrupt that.

For another example, if you have budgeted for going out for dinner once a week, and you have been asked to go out which would take you over your budgeted limit, you can say no. Just be clear on what your boundaries are so that you can stick to them. 

You don’t need to give a reason or excuse

▶ Saying no is enough. You can simply add that you’re busy or unable to but you don’t need to give a full detailed explanation of why. You can first say something polite such as, ‘Thank you for the offer…but undoftuantley  (Obviously, this would be different at the workplace as there are different expectations there, depending on your role and responsibilities.) 

Buy yourself some time

▶ You don’t always have to answer then and there. If you’re unsure if a request is something you would like to do, you could tell them that you’ll think about it or you will look at your schedule and get back to them. This allows you time to think over it and not feel cornered into saying yes right away.

Be up front and honest

▶ If you really don’t want to do something, you can tell them straight up that this is not something you’re interested in. Respecting you as a person means they should understand and accept your decision. If they don’t, then you’re back to the idea of reflecting on this relationship and if it is worth having.

You are not responsible for other people’s emotions

▶ It is not your job to please others. If they choose to feel disappointed, that is for them to deal with and not you. By trying to manage other people’s emotions, you will only burn yourself out and take on too much pressure and stress. Take charge of your happiness and let others take charge of their own.

If all else fails, look up to the successful people of this world and think how successful they would have been if they had spent their time doing what others had asked of them.

As Warren Buffet once said,

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” (Inc.com

The benefits of learning how to say No

By learning to say Yes and No according to what you actually want to do and what you believe is right can have such a powerful effect on your life.

✔️ For one, not saying yes to every request you are given can free up a lot of time and pressure. You no longer have a schedule full of commitments you didn’t actually want to do in the first place. You will find you have time to do the things that are important to you.

✔️ Your relationships will get stronger because you will be showing up as your genuine self and not as someone simply wanting to please others.

✔️ You will be able to share and reflect your ideas and thoughts instead of simply agreeing with those around you.

✔️ Stress levels can drastically decrease when you are no longer trying to live up to someone else’s high expectations. You get to set your own expectations of yourself.

✔️ Your happiness will increase because you won’t feel the burden of having to say yes to constant demands.

✔️ You might find that your self-respect will increase (as well as the respect you receive from others) because you are sticking up for what you believe is right and showing up as YOU. 

✔️ It will also weed out any relationships that were out of balance and based on the premise that you were there to do what they asked. Wouldn’t you rather know who your true friends are?

2 hands with Yes and NO written on each
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Will it be yes or no?

First and foremost, get clear on what aligns with your values and what it is you want to achieve. If something will help you get there, then saying yes is an advantage to you.

Don’t go away thinking that yes is a sign of weakness. That is absolutely not the case. Saying yes can be as empowering as saying no. 

What you need to make sure of is the reason why you are saying yes. Don’t say yes to something simply because someone else expects you to. Say yes because you want to do it. Agree to something because it aligns with your priorities and what matters to you.

As long as you stop saying yes simply to please others, you won’t fall into the trap of becoming a Yes Person.

Besides, there are plenty of things to say yes to. Has this post gone on for long enough, for instance? Should I wrap it up?

Heck yes!

Go say yes or no…but do it for the right reasons.

*Photo by Samantha Garrote from Pexels

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