It’s Thursday afternoon. You’ve scheduled your workweek so you can have an easier Friday so you can head out early to enjoy a much needed work-free weekend…a relaxing weekend spent with your boyfriend and catching up on exercise….you’ve seemed to missed the gym this past week due to work.
As you daydream about your work-free weekend your boss stops by your desk to ask you (read: “volunteer” you) for a seemingly important project that’s due Monday.
“Since it’s only Thursday, you’ll have all day Friday and some of the weekend to complete it. You in?”
And there goes your work-free weekend….
I’m always talking about how we can fit exercise in and around our work (and life) schedule but sometimes no matter what we try to do, we get suffocated by work! And although we may pass the blame onto our boss or co-workers, it really does come back down to us. As fast-paced, ambitious, Type-A women we SUCK at saying “no” to requests like the above.
Although we may not actively realize it, we continually aim to please the people around us, bosses, friends, parents, our S.O…..
But why is this bad?
Don’t we have to take every opportunity to showcase our talents and say yes to every request to appease our managers?
Well let’s talk about that.
You say “yes” to your boss, take the last minute project on (which you find out really isn’t all that exciting). You work late on Friday so you don’t have to give up much of your weekend and just a few hours of work Sunday. Good thing you have an understanding boyfriend as you have to cancel Friday dinner plans and ignore him for a few hours on Sunday as you finish the last bit of the project. And I guess you can restart your workouts on Monday?
Your boss emails you a quick, “Thanks, I’m sure it’s good” when you email her the completed project Monday morning. She mentions another, “Thanks for getting that project done, hope you had a nice weekend” later in the day. Other than that your boss does not utter another word about whether the work you did was actually good (or great?) or how big of an impact said project was. Well here’s to this weekend (hopefully) being the work-free, fitness-filled one you imagined last week.
You tell your boss, “Unfortunately I just won’t be able to complete this by Monday as I am tied up all weekend with personal plans. I’d be happy to finish it for you by end of day Tuesday though.”
(Your boss could respond in 2 ways…a “yes” or a “no”).
Let’s see what (plausibly) happens if she responds with a “no”…
“Tuesday will be too late for this assignment. But don’t worry, it’s nothing huge and I understand having weekend plans away from work! We all need them. I’ll just get Becky to take care of it (i.e. The girl a step below you in the chain of command of the grand corporate ladder.)
And surprisingly one week later the entire project request (you denied) is completely forgotten by your manager…guess it wasn’t career-breaking when you turned it down.
How saying “yes” affects us
Okay, so maybe real life isn’t exactly this “clear-cut” but I know this is a common occurrence in your work (and regular) life. This use to be me as well.
I remember a few times when I turned down requests at work due to personal items that were high priority for me. My manager told me in those cases that turning down these “opportunities” may affect my career. And as you may have guessed, on all those occasions my choices that put ME first did NOT hinder my career. Funny thing, turning down said requests in some instances actually HELPED my career (I got my cake and ate it too)!
So you may be asking, how do we know when it’s a real opportunity we should say “yes” to?
This is a tough question and one that a simple formula or a “list of 12 tactics!” can’t answer for you. Knowing how to spot true opportunities FOR YOU not only comes down to gut instinct but also knowing where your priorities exactly lie and what you truly value. And then STICKING TO your guns on them.
(Want to make mean progress on your fitness and work goals? Feel free to grab your free copy of the “Kick-Start Guide to a Fit and Strong Body”. Did I mention it’s free?!)
And remember, only YOU can determine if these requests are “opportunities”, your manager can only suggest that they are. You know yourself and your goals best.
What does, “No” mean?
Now if you know you DON’T WANT TO SAY YES to something, how do you possibly say “no”?! (A word foreign to you…right?)
Let me help you by breaking it down in some simple steps:
1.The very first thing to think about here is that us Type-As are natural people-pleasers and yes-sayers. We believe that WE CAN do EVERYTHING (which we can’t by the way). And because we’re so driven we think that every request is in fact a legit opportunity to advance ourselves.
Realize that. It’s step 1.
2. Next, realize that the above is NOT reality. It’s just the way our Type-A mind views the world. Step 2, done.
3. Step 3, the word “NO” is an option and can be used in situations like these.
4. Finally and the hardest step of them all, REMEMBER YOU. Remember that you are a person who has a work and personal life and that has friends and maybe a significant other that also needs you. No matter what is asked (or even told) of us, you need to REMEMBER YOU.
Once you’ve accepted those 4 steps and are ready to start using the word “no”, here’s how you can start incorporating that word into your vocab:
Put it into (actual) action!
- TAKE AN EXTRA MINUTE. When you’re in a situation where you’re being asked of something, before you reply (with either “yes” or “no”), TAKE AN EXTRA MINUTE to:
-ask yourself WHY you potentially want to say “no”
-quickly run through the possible negatives if you did say “No”. How bad is it?
(If it truly will have a negative effect then say, “yes”. But if not, consider saying “no”. )
- START SMALL. Say “no” to low-stakes requests, such as skipping out on our workout partner to do your own workout sesh.
- REMEMBER YOU. And always, Remember YOU and what YOUR priorities are.
The more you do something the better you get; this is the same for learning to use that small little word, “no”. Use it in low-stakes requests and slowly build it up to using it in larger requests. It’ll become second nature in no time. To become the BEST YOU, you sometimes need to put YOURSELF FIRST.
Within the past few months when did you default to your “yes” response when you really wanted to say “no”?
Why was it so hard to say “no”?