no20uI don’t know if you will agree with me, but a lot of us have extreme difficulty in saying no to a request, especially to a friend or relative. We have been totally brainwashed with the good Samaritan story and the nobleness of hospitality that we oftentimes tend to neglect our needs in the effort to “help others”. I sometimes question if the motive behind saying yes is truly genuine or simply a case of protecting our image as someone who is unselfish and caring. It could also be an expression of inferiority – the overwhelming concern of hurting others and losing their friendship.

I’m not here to say what’s right or wrong but here’s what I stumbled upon reading a magazine the other day :



Many of us say yes more often than we’d like. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself saying yes because you feel too guilty about saying no, here are some measures to help you protect yourself.

  • Stall. This gives you precious time to work up an honest rationale for a total refusal. Simply say : I don’t know.  I need time to think about it – give me an hour ( or a day, or whatever seems reasonable).
  • Use humor
  • Try flattery
  • Tell white lies, if necessary

Source : Barry Lubetkin, Ph. D. Institue of Behavioral  Theraphy, New York

Last week, a female colleague who manages projects and has no involvement in operation showed up at our weekly major changes meeting saying that she was sent by our boss to help us “refine” our controls and make it more productive. Her suggestions however called for stuff for herself to absorb, dipping her fingers in everyone’s pie, complicating the process.  I opposed her proposals in a firm but professional manner because it brought us another step backward rather than forward, which was unanimously supported by the group. In short, we killed her proposal because it was an absolute time waster. 

When she saw me at the office corridor  later on in the day she asked me in a light-hearted manner  “ are we still friends? “ I replied ” yes of course. I could give you a hug “. I did give her a hug 🙂 I felt guilty because I shot her proposal down. I sensed she was trying to expand her role for job security perhaps but on the other hand it was so glaringly extraneous and unproductive. It had to be stopped to preserve the integrity of the system.

Speaking for myself now, I honestly feel I am handicapped when it comes to saying no to people but I am learning. The bad part of not saying no is when you realize you short-changed yourself in a deal because you wimped out and forgot about your own interests.  It does reflect a lot on your self respect.


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