UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 14 – SAYING NO
“Half the troubles in life can be traced back to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings
What is saying ‘no’
Saying ‘no’ can be one of the toughest things as a bloke. We’ve all been in situations where for one reason or another we got talked into something we didn’t really want to do.
And these tricky moments take a thousand forms. There’s a sense that if I say ‘no’, I’m going to let someone else or an entire group down. I’m going to miss out on something really fun with my family or mate, a big opportunity at work, or some much needed extra income.
You’ll find that the moments where you are called upon to say ‘no’ are often where your standards are placed at risk and where you find out what you’re truly made of. Saying no is simply the ability to put a boundary – big or small – around those choices that are linked to your core values.
Why is it so hard?
Saying ‘no’ becomes a real issue when you do not know what you actually want. You’re confused as to what your real goals are, who you want to be and what you really want to do with your life. When you are in that ‘unsure’ space, ‘no’ becomes hard. Saying ‘no’ is also a real factor when you are confused as to the priority around your energy. You want to do ‘X’ and ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ but there are only 24 hours in a day and you have other core priorities to honour. You want to do everything and please everybody – this is linked to knowing what you really want.
This can be even harder when you feel like you’ve lost your sense of self or your direction. Generally in this state you don’t know your standards, or you haven’t been living to your standards, and as a result, you lose that sense of discipline, because you’re not on a path, and that’s what makes saying ‘no’ so difficult. You might even end up agreeing to some very questionable business decisions that you know are profit grabs or making a moral choice that your ‘gut’ tells you is plain stupid and you will live to regret.
How to make saying ‘no’ easier
One of the things to remember is that saying ‘no’ actually means saying ‘yes’ to something else.
You could go to the pub on a Friday afternoon with some mates, had three or four beers etc, and the whole group around you is saying, “Stay on, stay on. One more beer, one more beer.” And your gut in this instant wants to you head home… it’s saying, “No. I’ve had a really good couple of hours here, but I want to get home to my partner. I want to do something else.”
Remember saying ‘no’ is a good thing. The thing here to remember is, you’re saying ‘no’ to the short-term thinking and immediate temptation, which although lots of fun, is sacrificing another long-term thing that is really, really valuable to you (your relationship with your partner). Of course, if your gut is saying the opposite, “time to let the hair down and hang with my mates” then hell, stay out a couple of beers, that’s great. Might be your night to go out with the boys. It helps in your ability to say ‘no’ to be more in touch with the ‘yes’ that you can gain from it.
The situation might be that your boss wants you to go on yet another business trip away or to make a decision that has no morals or clashes with your core values or you or your partner want to spend money on something that isn’t right for you at this time. The key in these situations is to remember what you are trying to achieve that is of a greater or higher purpose. When you say ‘no’ to the extra business trip and spend quality time with your family / partner, when you say ‘no’ to the moral compromise – your ‘no’ adds to your saying ‘yes’ to your own greatness. You almost immediately feel right and stronger about it.
This starts with knowing your own direction and personal standards. So if you don’t have anything like that, that’s something all Universal Man should make a priority. Then you can centre yourself around that because that should be the filter for your decision making. Once you’re centred, that’s when you’ve got the right physical and emotional and spiritual presence to deliver a ‘no’ message.
And when you do that, your boss, your mates, your partner can all sense it. They will know that you are centred, that you’re focused, you know who you are and what you want to be and it will come through in your voice. The tone of your voice is resolute, it’s focused, it knows what it wants, and that is an awesome thing to be around. You are strong, and you stick to your values and your standards. Your boss and professional peers will admire you even more for your ability to say ‘no’ from this strong base.
Key principles that make saying ‘no’ easier:
- Remember, saying ‘no’ means saying ‘yes’ to something else. So, know what you are saying ‘yes’ too
- Be very familiar with your standards and values
- Know your bigger goals and dreams and have them close in your mind when you need to say ‘no’ to something (share these with people close to you)
- Centre yourself when you know you need to say ‘no’ in a difficult situation and speak with a resolute and clear voice
- It’s far easier when you add the full context to the person as to why you’re saying ‘no’ and what you’re saying ‘yes’ too
- When you really struggle to say ‘no’ to a particular thing over and over then seek deeper wisdom as to why you’re finding it so hard. Is it fear? An incongruency? Lack of skill in saying no? Do you just lack conviction or courage? Do you have a belief that you’re not up to it – i.e. a limiting personal belief that is stopping you setting the boundary? Are you just seeking comfort? The deeper reason will reveal exactly what you need to overcome in order to own those situations better.
Saying ‘no’ is liberating
Saying ‘no’ can become much easier. Start with the small things, because along your life’s journey you are going to be offered some things that are very, very hard to say ‘no’ to. It might be a big job, it might be a move internationally, it could be anything, and you want to know how to identify if it’s right for you or not.
These moments shape the course of your entire life. If you look back at all the times you should have said ‘no’…what would this have added to your life if you did rather than taking the easy path?
Saying ‘no’ liberates you to a higher level of yourself that you didn’t know was possible – just like fitness – you train and train and train to achieve a certain level of fitness and then one day you find yourself surpassing even what you thought possible – and easily and with true pride.
Grego and Pricey