Updated: Sep 24, 2020
Yes and no. Such simple words. We learned these two words early in life, yet they get in our way so often. So when should we say NO and when should we say YES? Stress is what happens when your gut says NO and your mouth says YES.
Source of My Own Stress
One evening a wise friend of mine gave me an invaluable piece of advice. As I whined about the stress associated with my never ending TO DO list, she looked at me and said, “No can be a complete sentence”. She went on to say that it was her impression that I was taking on too much and needed to say no when appropriate. I was the source of my own stress.
But how can I say no to the boss who controls my job? …to my kids’ coaches who need volunteers? …to my spouse who needs my support? …to my friends who plan events to help me deal with my stress?
No is a powerful word that most of us hate to hear. We don’t like to say no because it can be a source of disappointment. No can also be perceived as lacking commitment, support or respect.
Yet saying no to additional, stress-inducing commitments is essential for honoring previous commitments. So how is it possible to say no and not be thought of us negative?
Say NO by saying YES
When asked to commit to a task that you know will overwhelm your tightly timed TO DO list, instead of saying yes or no manage expectations about when you could reasonably complete the request.
When asked on Monday to provide a report that’s wanted on Wednesday, respond something like this:
"Yes, I’d be happy to help. Given my current work load, I can get that to you next Friday. Or, I can get you the data you need tomorrow and you can work up the report."
When asked to put together the soccer team contact information…
"Sure. I can get to that by the 15th. Will that be soon enough?"
Instead of saying yes or no, manage expectations. Say no to those requests that cannot be realistically managed. Say yes to what you can commit to doing that will not contribute to your own stress.