“I’m just a gal who can’t say no… “
I get a lot of requests to do stuff. And in the past, I used to say “yes”. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone and ever the pleaser, it felt good to agree.
But you know what, there were times when I should have said “no.” There were times when I just didn’t have the time on my schedule to take on something extra, and there were times when I wasn’t the right fit or I wasn’t that interested… and yet, my response was the same – “sure yes.”
Why do we do this to ourselves? Part of it is ego, I am sure, in that we’re flattered to be asked, but it is also because we don’t want to disappoint anyone and we want people to like us.
None are good enough reasons, especially if we stretch ourselves too thin and we end up too close to the edge. When we were interviewing women for our Good Enough book, Amy and I found they talked a lot about being pleasers, about wanting to keep everyone happy but they weren’t saying this with pride, more out of resentment, because they felt depleted by all the demands placed on them.
One way to avoid over-committing yourself is to pause. When someone asks you to take on something else, to do a favour or give a presentation, tell the person that you’ll get back to them. Give yourself some time to think it through so you don’t leap in with the automatic “of course, yes I will.”
Then if, on reflection you really don’t want to do it, you can get back to the person and say that you’ve checked your schedule, and right now, it is just not feasible. You don’t have to go into lengthy reasons. Keep it simple. But say “no.”
When we say “yes” to something we don’t want to do, we are denying ourselves the opportunity and time to say “yes” to an activity we really want to do. Try not to box yourself in. Keep yourself open to the opportunities that make you excited.
And to practice what I preach, I have recently stepped down from a couple of committees I have been on, one for many years, because it is time. It’s time for me to pursue other interests. It’s also time for other people to step up. It feels very freeing.
While you may not want to disappoint anyone, you also don’t want to disappoint the most important person in your life – YOU.
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.