Can the New Buzz Word on the Tip of Everyone’s Tongue Keep You Sane?


Instinct and honesty pave the road to happiness

There’s a new buzz word on the tip of everyone’s tongue that’s being hailed as the answer to all our problems. That magical, life-transforming word?


After years of being told, taught, and encouraged to say “Yes” to every opportunity, possibility, and request, it seems the positive aspects associated with being receptive to any and all who ask has finally come full circle.

And after taking a second look, things have become a little muddy.

What happened?

The premise of being generous with our time and resources is often based on the need “to do the right thing.”

The concept of “Yes” was not only meant to affirm our selfless dedication to the well-being of others — providing as much benefit to ourselves as it was to those in need — but also as a self-supportive strategy intended to return our generosity many times over in the form of increased confidence, professional growth, and new potential from our altruistic visibility.

But as it turns out, saying yes hasn’t been all sunshine and roses.

And as you may have already discovered, there are more than a few folks who believe the rest of us were put here to serve their wants and needs.

The good news? Those who have recognized the cost of offering an automatic “yes,” are discovering a better way to regain control over their lives. With a determined mindset to keep the “users” at bay, they’ve embraced a new single-syllable mantra: No.

More an act of self-preservation than dismissal of possibility, utilizing the power to say “No” has become a welcome solution to reframe our mindset and increase personal productivity.

Finding it difficult to decline all those pleas for help?

So did I — at first. Here are a few suggestions that may help you make better choices, when asked to give the gift of your time:

1. When a close friend or family member asks for a favor— and it’s something you don’t want to do — saying no can be difficult. Not only will they expect you to help, but you’ll feel the pressure from the assumption that familial relationships must be given first priority.

In truth, honesty will usually produce a more favorable outcome than simply conceding to a request by default. Thank them for asking and offer a truthful response, adding an explanation and details as you feel necessary.

Remember, you don’t always have to rationalize your way out of a situation. And if close friends and family members respect you and your choices, they’ll accept a “no” as graciously as you offer it.

2. If asked by a new acquaintance or someone you don’t know very well to join in an activity or give your time and energy to a project or event you have no interest in, allow your instincts to guide you.

Maintain a neutral mindset in your conversation, even though your answer is no. This approach will provide a more comfortable atmosphere for both of you to communicate, and suggests you’re open to discussion without commitment.

Extend your appreciation for being considered and politely decline, citing previous commitments. For example, “How nice of you to think of me. I appreciate you asking, but I have another obligation and won’t be able to join you.”

What if they push for an explanation? That’s usually the first sign you made the right decision not to pursue their agenda.

3. If you’re asked to do something you’re truly interested in, but can’t participate due to previously confirmed plans, offer an enthusiastic reaction while keeping your prior responsibilities in the forefront.

For example, “That sounds really interesting. I’d love to join you but I’ve already promised my time on another project and, unfortunately, I’m not available to help. If something changes, I’ll definitely let you know.”

You’ll be remembered as someone who doesn’t default on your commitments, and your honesty sends a clear message that when you do say “yes,” others can count on you to be there.

There’s a difference between making a personal investment in the betterment of others, and unconditionally giving away our time to the point we become disadvantaged in the pursuit of our own dreams and goals. Adopting a strategy to help when asked — selectively and on purpose — will keep you focused on your highest priorities, while giving you the opportunity to provide your expertise to those who not only need it the most, but are likely to appreciate and remember you for your contribution.

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