Permission to be...non committal

If you're aware of what you want to do, take the steps to actually achieve it! My vlog series "Permission to Be" brings you a bit of motivation and self-coaching!

Today I'd like to talk about the three little words that people seem to find difficult to say:


How many times have you complained about food and still left a tip, or agreed to help someone move house only to regret it the next day? I am simply thankful I have found a fantastic hairdresser because I've been known to walk out of shops with the hairdo from hell having said "oh that's nice" when they've shown me the back!

So is this quintessentially British? Are we in a culture so afraid of offending we really do feel more comfortable bitching behind backs instead of sorting it out face to face? Why do we hate saying "No"?

Most often: guilt...and the desire to be liked.

Other common reasons you may be reluctant to say no include:

- Enjoyment of “being needed”

- Feeling that you are valued or worthy because you are needed

- Having a reputation of “That’s so-and-so s/he’ll always be able to help.”

- Not knowing what else to say

- (and my favourite) I can't lie...(ok, so it's so much better grumbling to everyone else about it behind someone's back then???)

But in seriousness, not knowing where to draw the line can bring you problems.

View saying yes as filling a glass – there will come a point when you have said “yes” so often the glass is over-filled and no longer functions as a glass. Whilst being flexible and adaptable, keep the value of your time, money and energy at the fore.

So, here are some tips to remember when tempted to say “yes” all the time:

1. Never give more (of anything) than you can afford to lose

While "selflessness" may be praised - you need to remember to "affix your own mask first". If you are a caregiver, giving is natural to you, but you must always remember that if you are in such a role, what will happen if you have given so much of yourself you no longer have strength. This is not to say "be selfish" - but always remember your own value and do not compromise it.

2. Being amenable is a two way process - not a means of keeping someone/something

No matter what "love language" you prefer - everyone likes a freebie (in fact, for some it's a marketing strategy). However, when it comes to relationships, it is so important to know that giving is a means of deepening a relationship, not a means of trying to keep one. The moment a relationship is built on gifts where one person is always giving - perhaps because they want the relationship more than the other, it is not going to last. The giver will begin to feel resentful, and the receiver never really committed.

3. Saying “no” takes practice

Sometimes having a helpful – yet empowering response pre-prepared can help you when you are caught off-guard in a “please help me” situation.

Practice these statements:

1. Of course I can help but I can only do it at/by X time

2. I only have 5 minutes, and I must get on with X

3. Can I let you know at the end of the day/tomorrow?

4. Here’s one I made earlier (give them a sample template)

5. How would you like me to help you/What do you think is best for me to do/What would be of most help to you at this time? (Give the responsibility back to them after all they are often adults too!)

4. And my secret bonus tip – remind yourself never to say “yes” without thinking when you are in a good mood! (Believe me - it's how I've roped in most people to my projects, meet them down the pub and before they know it they're in my next theatre production.)

While a concern with the first three statements is sometimes “…but they will stop asking me”, you may need to ask yourself – is this really a bad thing? We don't tend to make excuses when we either want to do something or would love to but have prior engagements.

"No." is a full sentance, and using it reminds you to value yourself and what you have to offer, because once you recognise your worth, others will too!

Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (Pearson & FT series) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (Pub Pearson, 2016, Book of the Month in WH Smith Travel Stores). She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, and is part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and offers psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.

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Twitter: @draudreyt

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