“No” Is Not a Dirty Word

June 23, 2021

I always say "yes" because I feel like I am checking all of the boxes. But how is that really working out for me?

No matter how hard I paddle, I just can’t seem to get back to shore. Each wave speaks to me. “Micah, can you pull together the executive presentation?” “Micah, will you mentor two more people?” “Micah, can you stay late to review this report?” I always say “yes” because I feel like I am checking boxes, being more visible, taking advantage of opportunities, expanding my skills. You know, all the bullshit we’re told that will further our careers.

But you know what saying yes, yes, yes is doing for me? Making me exhausted! I have no life. And, by the way, I also don’t have that promotion.

I finally sought out my mentor to get a reality check. I asked if saying “yes” all the time would eventually pay off. Imagine my surprise when I got this unexpected response. “Saying “no” demonstrates that you are selective and value your own time. It sends the message that you are self-directed and measured. This makes it clear to others that you have boundaries, and you can’t be taken advantage of. Saying “yes” all the time signals that you are easily manipulated, and people can corner you into picking up the slack they leave behind. You don’t want to be the patsy.”

So, yesterday I said “no” twice. Well, once was to my mother so that probably doesn’t count. But I did tell a colleague that I couldn’t attend a 4-hour project meeting so I could be their “fresh eyes”. It was on the tip of my tongue for them to find some other fool! Small steps…