As young professionals, we were always told to say yes at work, to act eager about extraneous projects, and to go the extra mile (or two). It was basically ingrained in us that "no" was a dirty word, one that we shouldn't even think of uttering, lest we seem entitled. Although you should never have a sense of entitlement, there's something to be said for setting parameters when it comes to work/life balance. Naturally, the act of setting boundaries at the office includes saying no sometimes, asserts a new article in The New York Times by Kristin Wong titled "Why You Should Learn to Say 'No' More Often."
If uttering these words makes you uncomfortable, you're definitely not alone. It may be easier for you to use the "refusal strategy," which means you use the words "I don't" as opposed to "I can't," making your decision something that's not up for discussion. "While 'I can't' sounds like an excuse that's up for debate, 'I don't' implies you've established certain rules for yourself, suggesting conviction and stability," writes Wong. Plus, new research in The Journal of Consumer Research proves that using this phrase was more successful in getting people out of undesirable commitments.
Furthermore, saying no also connotes a sense of confidence. "The ability to communicate 'no' really reflects that you are in the driver's seat of your own life," says Vanessa M. Patrick, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Houston. "It gives you a sense of empowerment." So the next time you receive a request to take on a new project at work you don't have the bandwidth for, or are asked to stay late when you've had an event on the calendar for months, give the practice of saying no a go.
You likely won't be disappointed by the outcome.
Be sure to pick up a copy of The Power of No for more, and tell us your best tricks for saying no in the comments.