As a personal branding coach, I work with a lot of high achieving women who are overworked, over scheduled, and overwhelmed. At first glance it may seem to be a person who is in high demand, but when I peel the layers back I often find a woman who simply has a difficult time saying no. She’s stretched to the max because she doesn’t know how to set healthy boundaries, she doesn’t know how to assert herself, and she doesn’t know how to say no.
If you find it difficult to say no, here are the reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it.
1. Saying no makes you feel more confident.
When you say no, you are exercising assertiveness muscles and standing up for yourself. Instead of allowing people to run over you, or agreeing to things that you don’t want to do, saying no communicates self-esteem and self-worth. Women who struggle with self-confidence often find themselves taking on more than their fair share of work at the office, or more than their fair share of work at home. But each time you establish a boundary by saying no, you send a silent signal to yourself that you deserve equal treatment and are just as deserving as anyone else. Repeated signals over time will significantly boost your confidence. Try it!
2. Saying no clarifies what you’re all about.
I like to tell my clients that we are defined as much by what we don’t do, as we are by what we do. We are evaluated and judged as much by what the things we say no to as we are by the things we say yes to.
If you say yes to everything, your personal brand becomes muddled; no one will know what you stand for, what you believe, or who you really are. By saying no, you align yourself more closely with the values, tasks, and work that you really want to be known for. By saying no, you strengthen both your position in the marketplace and your reputation among family, friends, and colleagues.
3. You’re not really closing the door of opportunity like you think you are.
Many women who want to get ahead at work are often looking for ways to get exposure, recognition, and praise. So when opportunities to help out, speak up, or share their expertise arise, even if they are overbooked, they will often accept because they falsely believe that by turning down one opportunity it will close the door to opportunities in the future. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you turn down opportunities that aren’t the right fit, come at a bad time, or you simply aren’t prepared to take on, you give yourself space to show up more fully for the opportunities that do make sense.
4. Contrary to your superwoman image, no one expects you to do it all.
In a recent episode of my podcast entitled Why Aren’t You Asking For Help I explored the many reasons women don’t ask for the help that we need. Sometimes it’s because we have had to be independent for so long that we have forgotten how to ask. Other times it’s because we don’t want to bother people who could help us. In other cases, we have a superhero complex and need to feel needed. In any event, recognize that sometimes your unwillingness to say no is simply a mask for your inability to admit what you really need – help. Ask yourself if you’re saying yes because you really want to do something, or simply because you’re too proud to admit that you can’t take on another task.
5. Saying no is a means of self-care.
When you say no to things that don’t work for you, you are exercising self-care. So many women prioritize the needs of spouses, children, bosses, friends, church, and volunteer organizations above their own. We are hardwired to take care of others so rebooting that programming takes effort, but is worth it in the end. If you can streamline your involvements and begin to prune back your commitments by saying no, even in just one area of your life, you’ll have more time and focused energy for the things that matter most to you – including yourself.