Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), as my colleague Sophia Dembling rightly recognizes, is one of the many reasons we say yes when we want to say no. It is so true that we often feel we will miss the great adventure, but it is also true that we agree to be somewhere, to do something, to help out someone, to be the good sport for a host of other reasons. I add them here as a wakeup call, an alert, as to why you might be amenable when you don't want to be.
Reasons We Can't or Don't Say No:
- Not wanting to disappoint a friend, colleague, or relative
- Wanting to be seen as the good guy, a team player
- Afraid that someone will think you are selfish
- Fear of being banished from the group
- Worried others will view you as lazy or uncaring
- Wanting people to love, or at the least, like you
Remember, you don't have to be the chronic Girl or Boy Scout. Saying Yes adds stress and does not make you a nicer person. Few things are more rewarding than the relief of having said NO. With most NO's comes the realization that you just extricated yourself from some commitment that would have made you anxious, stretched you too thin, wore you out, or took you away from the people you truly wanted to be with.
Getting Yourself "Off the Hook"
When you find yourself about to be roped into a situation or chore or, as Sophia mentioned, a party that holds little appeal, here are insights and reminders culled from my book, The Book of NO-250 Ways to Say It and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever
, to help get you off the hook:
- The first "no" to a person makes subsequent refusals easier.
- The word "no" is enough. Lengthy explanations leave wiggle room for debate, misinterpretation, or permission to ask again.
- Lessis more. The less said in the way of excuses, the stronger the message.
- Don't apologize for being unavailable.
- Having a reputation for being the person everyone leans on is not flattering and makes you a prime target for being railroaded into more "yeses."
- Agreeing to do what others ask doesn't make you a nicer person.
- If you're known for being able to juggle many tasks at once or for doing everything well, discredit that myth. Being a star performer simply begets more requests.
- You can't do enough for some people, don't try.
- Dissect each request carefully to make sure you are not being bribed, cajoled, bullied, or threatened.
- Be aware of your limits; reconsidering and redefining your boundaries will ease an escape.
- Believe that you can say "no" and remain an involved, caring, and committed person.
- Most people are understanding and forgiving. You don't want the unforgiving in your life anyway.
- Remind yourself daily that "no" is liberating and saying it is your right.
A previous post gives questions to ask yourself before you say yes. For more on how and why to say NO to friends, co-workers, your children and other relatives, see: The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It--and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever
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Copyright 2011 by Susan Newman