This is a topic that comes up frequently during conversations with my friends – the habit of people-pleasing. Too often, people – women especially – find it difficult to say no. This is usually born out of fear of not being liked or of disappointing others. The result is high stress levels, anxiety about not being able to do it all and overscheduled lives. Today, I am here to tell you the word “no” is in fact a complete sentence. It requires no additional qualifiers. It is such a small word yet it causes so much distress.
When someone makes a request of you, it is your prerogative to say yes or no. You are under no obligation to agree to the request. If you say no, you don’t need to provide an explanation about why you said no. Think about it, if you were saying yes, you wouldn’t feel that you had to explain why you said yes. So why do you think you need to explain why you said no?
Why do you feel you can’t say no without an excuse attached? Maybe it’s for one of the following reasons. Maybe you don’t want to upset the other person. Perhaps you feel guilty about saying no. Or possibly you don’t want to be viewed negatively by the other person. Yet still, you may worry that the next time you ask for a favour you will be told no in retaliation.
But guess what? None of these excuses is valid. It is unreasonable for someone else to ask you to do something that will cause you be in a position of hardship just because you are worried about how they may react.
The reality is, people-pleasers are often taken advantage of by others because they know that people-pleasers are incapable of saying no. As a consequence, the people-pleasers end up with too many to-dos and not enough time or the ability to do them all. This results in the people-pleaser suffering from unnecessary stress and anxiety, which is completely unfair.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am NOT saying that you should be selfish and uncaring. If the request is within your ability to do and it isn’t going to conflict with other aspects of your life, then of course you can and probably should say yes. The point I am trying to make is if you know that the request is not something you should do ( for example, it is morally offensive, illegal, harmful etc) or if it is not something you have the time or ability or desire to do, instead of the customary “I’ll try” or some other non-committal response, just say “No.”
And finally, please I beg of you, do not be the person who says yes just to shut the requestor up but you in fact have no intention of following through. That is dishonest and lacking in integrity! Say what you mean – it is far better to say no than to say yes and then not deliver.
Are you a people-pleaser? Remember, taking care of your mental health by not taking on more than you can handle is not selfish, it is self care.