It’s inbuilt into the British psyche to be polite. No, perhaps even our human nature. We’re born and raised not to say no.
As Yusuf, the formally known Cat Stevens once said “from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen”. And even though the song Father & Son was written and recorded in the 60s, there’s something ever so prevalent about that statement in 2019. Even to this day I catch out friends doing things they don’t really want to do, committing themselves to work events or friend dates they just would, well, rather not attend.
“You’re well within your rights to know your worth, and sometimes saying no might mean losing the job, but it won’t ever mean losing any respect”
Do we think it makes us a better person? Doing these things that we don’t want to do. Will it help us get to the top? Top of the work-pool, friend-pool or even gene-pool. I cannot tell you how many countless dates I have been on in the past with men who I didn’t really fancy, but I was just so worried about turning them down, or rejection itself on them or me, I just went along anyway. When it would have been far kinder for them, and for my own sanity to just say no.
Saying no in a work situation doesn’t always lead to disaster either. I know starting out, especially in the creative industry, it can seem super scary to say no or turn down an opportunity. For example, saying no to doing a discounted rate or even work for free.
You’re well within your rights to know your worth, and sometimes saying no might mean losing the job, but it won’t ever mean losing any respect.
Often a client will respect a creative who says no, more than one who frantically says yes to everything and doesn’t deliver. A simple “no, I am sorry I haven’t got the capacity in my diary to take that on at the moment” or “no, I’m sorry that’s my standard rate” never fails to disappoint, and you still remain professional, polite, and well busy – which is always a bonus!
No excuses; no “I’m busy washing my hair tonight”, just a flat NO. A no without explanation, or warrant. A no, just cos’ it’s a no – nothing more, nothing less. How right-on would that feel?
“…I have far more time and respect for people these days who say you know what, I love you but no.”
As I reach the grand old age of 27 (can you tell I am not excited about joining the 27 club?) I can feel myself becoming more restrictive with my yeses. Not giving them out quite as easily or as freely as I once did. A yes from me has to come from an honest place, a sincere place, and yes that has meant turning down opportunities and even sometimes relationships, but how many more times can I keep saying ‘yes’ at the risk to my own sanity?
When I told my fella I was writing this blog post his reaction, if not somewhat jovial, was “well, we can’t say no because it’s rude isn’t it?” But, is it really rude? Isn’t it far ruder to lie to someone’s face and pretend we want to do or be at something, that we don’t really give a shit about. Honestly I have far more time and respect for people these days who say “you know what, I love you but no.” No I won’t be going to that – and no, I don’t need to explain myself. It’s just cos’ I don’t want to”.
“What’s that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Does it feel a bit like sick-sickness thrown in with adrenaline? Yep, that’s anxiety.”
I mean, I guess there’s a certain element of feelings that come into it. Like, don’t just go off after reading this and start saying no to any Tom, Dick or Harry without thinking about their feelings first. If your decision affects someone else, other than yourself, that’s where you enter this rather muggy grey area of what I like to call ‘no-ness’. Where you have to take a 3 check-point test, to make sure you’re covered, before you say no.
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here’s Georgie Glass’ No-Ometer, that you can take forth and into the big wide world, and use to become a person who can say NO.
Point One – Does saying No give me anxiety? If so, why?
What’s that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Does it feel a bit like sick-sickness thrown in with adrenaline? Yep, that’s anxiety. Just try and break down why you feel anxious. Is it because you don’t want to go but you’re afraid if you don’t you might piss someone off, or you’ll have serious FOMO?
Just check in with yourself, ask yourself “why am I feeling this way?” If you can answer your own question and come to a resolution whereby you feel happier, then go-you! But if the anxiety remains, perhaps talk to a loved one, ask them what they think. Try and break it down into baby steps, because anxiety is a bitch. I can promise you, you don’t deserve to beat yourself up over a simple no. If it’s someone you’re worried about rather than something, talk to them. They will understand, and if they don’t, perhaps they shouldn’t be in your life anyway.
Which leads me nicely on to…
Point Two – Does saying No affect someone else other than myself?
Okay, so for me this is always the biggie. It’s always easy saying no when it’s only you that’s affected, but if someone else is involved then it gets a little trickier.
If it’s something big, like you’re sick, come on now you’ve got to put yourself first. I promise you the person will understand, and they probably won’t want you there vomming all over the gaff anyway.
Same with your mental health; I know from experience, that if you’re having a bad mental health day, something you once committed yourself to can feel daunting and scary when it’s looming. Again, try and talk to the person involved, tell them the truth and be honest. If it’s someone you can’t be honest with, that’s not as easy. Try and create fallback reasons for people you can’t always be 100% honest with, i.e. networking events. This is only in case of emergency, hopefully you’re surrounded by people in your life who will understand a no accompanied by an explanation. But for those who aren’t, it is okay to fall upon the occasional white lie, as long as you’re not hurting someone in the process.
And well, if it’s just that you don’t ‘feel like it’ – I suggest you suck it up. Sometimes it’s nice to put other peoples feelings before your own, you may just go and enjoy it.
Point Three – Be at peace with your No.
Be prepared if it’s a no, it’s a firm no. Don’t be scrawling through your Insta at 2am with the crying emoji thinking “fuck, I wish I’d gone to that”. Remember your no, and why you said it in the first place. Maybe you needed some me-time, maybe you needed to focus on some work, or maybe you wanted to dance around the kitchen in your underwear singing ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Don’t let the green eyed monster or the guilt gremlin come a-creepin’. Whatever your reason, be at peace with it.