The importance of saying no at work

Remember at school, when a teacher told you not to do something? Not because it was wrong, but it wasn’t what they wanted; so, you agreed without questioning it. You didn’t want her to reduce your marks in the next exam, right? 

Remember when that teacher told you to focus more on her subject than basketball? And you had to say “yes, ma’am” because you didn’t want a bad reputation. 

Or, remember when that aunty told you to wear something more proper; and you just smiled and nodded, because you didn’t want to displease anyone. 

The pressure of agreeing to our superior, so that we are not black listed, started even before we realized it was pressurizing us. So, was the problem ever us? Or was the problem surrounding us? 

The workplace is like a birthday cake; the pay and perks as sweet as the icing, even though you have to burn yourself out like a candle. And you know what’s the cherry on top is? Dilemma. Oh, and there is a cherry on the cherry, jeopardy. Saying no can come at a lot of costs for many people. Their status, reputation, career and even livelihood sometimes, depend on this two-letter word. 

So why is it important to still take the risk and say the N word when you should do it?

Rejection earns you respect

It seems paradoxical but saying no when someone tries to undermine your work, or make use of it without a decent compensation, No is the right reply. Saying no here is not only justified and supported by proof but also shows the other person how you are not a pushover. 

Just imagine that aunty who used to tell you to dress properly, realizing you have the right to dress the way you want and complimenting on your style instead. A simple no can do this for you.

 Say yes to focusing on yourself

When you say no, you are focusing on something more important, which allows you to grow professionally or personally. When you beat around the bush instead of a direct no, or when you say yes to some work you haven’t committed yourself; you are taking away precious time you could have invested in yourself. 

Now imagine that same aunty, who shamed you for your style. You waste so much time wondering how to express the fact that she should mind her own business, in sweet words. A simple two letter word would have saved you from this.

Ideals need to be defended

No, no one is ever right about everything. But when your ideals and values are being questioned, or worse, mortified, no is a need. But maybe you want to be the bigger person in the room. Maybe you want to know the reason behind his statements. So instead of a no, which may sound impudent, you can ask ‘why’. This not only shows your interest in learning more about the person but also shows how you uphold your morals.

Back to our aunty, imagine she is (yes, I know you know) telling you how what you have worn is improper. Ask her why she thinks that. Actually, go ahead and use that 5 w 1 h concept here. 

What according to her is proper and why does she think that?

Who told her this and why does she believe them?

Where was this standard formed and why was it formed like that?

Now that we know how to deal with aunties, here are some other instances where saying no isn’t just important, it is unavoidable.

Work for free

There are people who expect you to deliver a ‘little’ more since you are already delivering a lot. Why not give a 101 when you are already giving your 100%? That 1% right there is the exploitation. Every bit of work your brain and body decide to do for someone else should be compensated in some way.

Getting too close

Office romance is a good genre if you are searching for a Korean drama, but some employees getting extremely close to other employees, trying to talk to them, or even worse, touch them is the reality. This is something a no will not be enough for. Here, no is just the first step. Giving a formal complaint, giving a warning and taking further actions, if needed comes next.  

And what to do when it is your boss the recipient of your no? What then? These are the times when you need to remember how important it is to keep your head up, even if they push you down. One crack in their confidence will cause a huge fall. They immediately start doubting their strategy of talking people into doing something for them. When you question or stop someone with a no, the barrier created is by them and not you. They will see this barrier in front of them whenever they are conversing with others too, always concerned at another no coming their way.

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