Updated 2021


the right to say no


When you have a sense of responsibility, it allows you to do work well that is a part of your own personal responsibility. You know you are expected to do certain duties and you follow through with them. However, in some situations, you find yourself doing way more than you had originally agreed upon. At that point you may find yourself saying yes to things that are outside your job description, or they are meant to be done by someone else, yet you end up doing them.

Doing someone a favor is one thing. However, when you end doing someone else’s work all the time with them taking credit for your work is another thing. Obviously, this is a completely unacceptable thing situation. Not only do such people get to escape doing their work, they are also getting acknowledged for something which they did not even do themselves. It ends up that you, who are putting in all the effort are not even recognized for the extra work you completed.

Even though it is difficult, we need to do ourselves a favor by learning how to say no to such people. This is easier said than done. Most of us are not comfortable saying no to our colleagues and sometimes even to our friends and family because we are afraid that they might be offended or upset.

We may fear that things will never be the same between us. This happens so often that almost all of us have been in such a situation a couple of times, at least. We find ourselves agreeing to things we know we should not be doing, yet we do them.

How does one stop others from running all over them? As we have discussed before, it can only happen by our learning and using assertiveness skills.These assertive skills are a particular set of tools which allow us to realize that while others are important, we are no less important.

What is assertive behavior exactly? Due to all the mistaken ideas many people have, it is important to look at this thoroughly. The fact is that many people are often confused about these communication styles.

A passive person is likely to think or say something like “My needs are not important” whereas an aggressive person is likely to say “Only my needs are important”. An assertive person however, says “My needs are just as important as other people’s needs.”

While everybody does have the right to say no to something which they do not agree with, how do we go about saying no to others? Explaining yourself calmly and collectedly is a good place to start. You cannot just say a no straight and leave. That would leave things unfinished and be expecting the other person to read between the lines.

To use assertiveness skills, it is important to be kind, firm, honest, clear or direct and confident about the reasons why you will not be able to meet their unreasonable expectations any longer. Some people call this setting clear boundaries with others. I will have other articles on this topic under that title also.

The thing you need to keep in mind is that you are saying no to someone, yet you want whatever relationship you have with that person not to be damaged in the process. In order to fulfill this intention, you would have to be a bit diplomatic, rather than rude and arrogant.

Speak respectfully and honestly why you are saying no to their request. Even after this if they become upset,it really is not your responsibility or your problem. You are being assertive for your own good and eventually with healthy people you will gain more respect from them. (That will not necessarily be true of those whose way of life is to use other people.)

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