As published on Addicted2Success by Filiz Behaettin.

Have you ever said yes to a work decision you didn’t necessarily agree with or felt obligated to say yes? Chances are your answer to that question is most likely a ‘yes.’ Don’t worry; you are not alone. The fear of saying ‘no’ in the workplace and feelings of guilt associated with it is still widespread, even in today’s day and age.

More often than not, we go along with workplace decisions, particularly decisions made by our senior managers, even if it makes us unhappy. There are several reasons for this, but the common one is the fear that saying no will result in us losing future opportunities for a promotion or pay rise and the feelings of guilt associated with this. Whether these are learned behaviors from society or not, one thing is for sure; we have not fully understood the art of decision-making or saying no correctly.

After spending the last decade in a high-pressure work environment, I have seen the long-term impacts on individuals who continually say yes. These include feelings of burnout, depression, or anxiety which slowly begin to intervene with the way an individual goes about their daily life. To release you from the pressures of saying ‘yes’ all the time, use this easy four-step process below and regain control of your work life!

1. Personal interest

When approached by an employer, whether it is to take on a higher role with the same pay or complete a task that is not within your job description, always ask yourself: Does what they’re asking me to do fit within my lifestyle or career plan?

If the answer is no, then there’s no reason to say yes to something that does not suit your needs or future career aspirations. We all live different lives and therefore have different personal needs and interests.

For example, let’s say your workplace has offered you a promotion, but you have a side hustle, and your long-term goal has always been to work for yourself and leave your current role when possible. While a promotion may seem like a great opportunity from your employer’s perspective, it will prevent you from having the extra time to concentrate on your long-term goal.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

2. Satisfaction

As we spend the majority of our hours at work, nothing could be worse than not being satisfied with or dislike what we are doing in the workplace on a daily basis. Doing any task for an extended period of time that you are not satisfied with will result in your mental health suffering. So, anytime you have an opportunity to control what you can and cannot do in the workplace, take it. If you aren’t satisfied with what your workplace is proposing, learn to say the magical word – No!

3. Speak with confidence

Confidence makes a big difference when saying no and is an excellent skill to learn. If you can show confidence and emotion when speaking, your response will be better received and won’t enable the opportunity for push-back. Always maintain an even tone when speaking and try not to finish with an open-ended question.

An excellent way to remind yourself to speak with confidence is to think of previous speakers you have come across at seminars or webinars. Which speaker got your attention, the one that bore you to death or the one who spoke with confidence and emotion? Speaking with confidence is critical if you want to be articulate in how you decline an offer.

4. Don’t compare yourself

When surrounded by team members who constantly say yes to everything in the workplace, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling obligated to say yes too. Fortunately, it need not be that way. You need to see yourself as an individual and understand that what may suit your work colleagues doesn’t necessarily have to suit you too. We all have different needs and complete work tasks differently; not one person is the same. If your fellow team members get excited about doing an additional ten tasks on top of their current workload, good for them, but know that you do not have to operate in the same manner. It’s okay to be different!

Saying no is a daunting task to many people, but it need not be. If you want to learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you need to start exercising the above tips. It is your right to decline all that does not serve you. At first, you may feel out of your comfort zone, but don’t let that phase you. After doing it a few times, it will become second nature to you.

It is also essential to understand that it doesn’t matter where you sit on the corporate ladder or where you work; if something does not serve you or your more significant needs, you don’t need to oblige to the demands placed upon you by members of your workplace. So, start today and say no to anything that doesn’t serve you!

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