Last week, I visited my little sister at work. I happily walked into her restaurant and couldn’t wait to catch up with her. To my absolute horror, I found her white as a sheet. My poor sister said she had been up all night with food poisoning and felt so sick. There’s absolutely no way she should have been at work for her own health and legally per health code.
When I asked her why she wasn’t at home resting, she said she called her boss and he said she was allowed to be a half hour late that day, but that’s it. She, naturally, was so upset and didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give her the day off and cover her shift. She always covers everyone else’s shifts, she stays late, and constantly picks up the slack. In a nutshell, she’s a model employee. But her constant willingness to help also has a downside.
Poor girl was absolutely devastated that she was getting pushed around when she was such a strong employee and always took care of everyone else. I told her that while that’s a great quality to have (and I’m so proud of her for being such an outstanding worker), she also needed to take care of herself. Even more specifically, I told her she needed to stop being the yes girl. Because when you give out yeses all the time, they become worthless. And people can use and take advantage of you as much as they want because they always know you’ll say yes.
Saying “Yes” Isn’t a Form of Niceness
Rewind five or six years and I’m working at a movie theater. A co-worker asked me to cover his shift because there was an event he really wanted to attend. Of course, I wanted to spend my day off doing my thing and hanging out with my friends. But, because I always covered people’s shifts (must run in the family), he continually pleaded and begged me. Eventually I felt obligated to say yes as a way of being nice. What right did I have to say no?
From the moments those words left my mouth, I instantly regretted it. There was a pit in my stomach because the situation just felt so icky and manipulative. So, I added he owed me lunch…knowing full well he would never follow through. But I thought it was a way to pretend that I had standards. Even though he gladly accepted my request, I never got that burrito. But the worst part is I knew I never would.
I let the entire situation unfold and ultimately felt taken advantage of. Even after I took his shift, I never followed up with my requested lunch beyond just asking a couple times sheepishly. I always thought that nice girls help people and nice girls don’t confront people. So I went along with the punches and kept getting manipulated into taking shifts I never wanted.
But now that I’m (slightly) older and (significantly) wiser, I’m calling bullshit. You don’t have to say to every favor people ask you to be nice. And you don’t have to let people do whatever they want to be considerate. You don’t have to be docile and taken advantage of to be a kind, caring, and generous person.
My mom always says that people can only take advantage of you if you let them. Sure, as a confused and frustrated teenager, that statement didn’t resonate with me. But once I realized that I can say no, those words finally made sense to me. We have the power to not let people take advantage of us because we have the power to say no and stand up for ourselves and our needs.
When you say yes to people because you’re trying to be nice, but really get a twisted feeling in the bottom of your stomach, you’re actually doing the opposite. Because you’re just being cruel to yourself.
My sister always picks up slack at work because she loves her co-workers and is wholeheartedly dedicated to being a good worker. But because she’s always the one doing extra work and always covering for people, they stopped appreciating her efforts and instead started expecting it.
You, your time, your energy, and your skill are precious and valuable. Don’t feel obligated to freely give it just to be nice.When you say yes all the time, your yeses become worthless. Stop being the yes girl! Click To Tweet
The Three Step Process to Making “No” a Norm
But how do we actually learn to stop being the yes girl? What are the steps to make that change? When it comes to any change, whether it be a lifestyle change, new habit, I always break it down into a three step process.
- Develop the right mindset
- Make a plan of action
- Follow through
Mindset: You CAN Say No
For the longest time, I never knew that saying no to people was actually an option. I didn’t know that I could say I wouldn’t take a shift, help someone move, pass up a social event, or reject any offer or request just because I wanted to. Especially for people who I don’t have an established relationship with.
Firstly, I want you to know that it’s okay to say no. Don’t feel obligated to do everything for everyone–especially when it comes at your own expense. Usually, there’s always someone else who can help there, you can schedule a time that’s more convenient for you, or they’ll manage to live without your help. If they’re a true friend, they’ll prioritize your well being over whatever favor they’re asking.
Secondly, I want you to know that you shouldn’t feel guilty for saying no. While it may take a little practice, know that you, your time, and your energy are valuable and precious. Don’t feel like you have to give that away just because someone asks. If there’s ever a situation where you feel manipulated and get that nasty feeling in your stomach, say no, stand your ground, and move on. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become. And your reward will be maintaining respect for yourself, limiting negative interactions, and setting boundaries with people who have manipulative tendencies.
Your “No” Toolbox
Usually more often than not, I would say yes in the heat of the moment. They would catch me off guard and all of the sudden I was agreeing to something I definitely didn’t want to do. So it helps to have a plan of action. Have an “excuse” in your back pocket that allows you to respectfully decline without facing backlash. Of course, I’m not saying lie to your close friend and family. But if a coworker asks you to take a shift and you just want to Netflix all day, have a go-to method of turning that down. Then you won’t be as flustered if you’re caught of guard.
If you’re talking to a close friend or family member, tell them why you have to say no and stand your ground. If your sister asks you to watch her kids on Friday night, but you were looking forward to some me time, go ahead and tell her that! But offer to help her on a night that’s better for you. Or maybe you say, “Sure I’ll watch them that night. But the next week, we have to grab lunch and catch up!” Have a couple alternative ways to make an “unpleasant” favor more positive and fulfilling for both parties.
I’m not saying go ahead and be the world’s most selfish asshole. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not even capable of being that. But understand that you don’t have to say yes to manipulative people and there’s a way to help out your friends and family without just saying yes.
Practice Makes Perfect
The only way to become more comfortable and familiar with the methods that work for you is through practice. The next time someone asks you for a favor you don’t want to do, don’t automatically say yes. Pause and evaluate the situation. Can you just say no? Is there a way to make the interaction focused on a positive outcome and not just the favor itself? The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get. And the less guilty you’ll feel. And I totally believe you can do it!
If you’re looking for a supportive group of women who completely get the same struggles as you, join my free Facebook Group: The Be Simply It Self Lovelies. We would love you encourage and support you on your self love journey. Because there’s absolutely no reason to feel like you have to go it alone! And we’ve totally got your back.
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