Learn to say ‘No’ #AtoZChallenge

Dear Son

In one of my previous letters I had stressed the importance of kindness. However, sometimes you also need to be kind to yourself. In our bid to be accepted we end up doing things that we are not happy doing without protesting. We fear that we would be judged if we refused to comply to the request. In turn we end up fitting into somebody else’s plan without really wanting to do so.

Remember the last time you were unable to say no to someone? While you would have liked to say no, you mouthed a yes without knowing how to scoot out of the situation. However, saying that yes made you uncomfortable about the situation. There have been many such occasions that I remember when you have been invited for a night-over at your friend’s place after a long day. You would have loved to sleep off the day’s exhaustion but your friends insist that you have to join them. You know fully well that you’d be groggy the next day at school and might end up being sick after staying up late with your friends the night before. Saying no and sticking to it would have avoided you all the trouble but you do not want to let down your friends. In this case since it was an activity you like doing with your friends, despite the lack of sleep it still isn’t that big a deal.

Later in life when you need to prioritize your tasks in a stringent manner, saying yes when you’d rather say no could put you in a disadvantageous position, especially in a professional scenario. Some people are always on a look-out for someone who cannot say no. They have the knack of working on your guilt to get their tasks done. Pay close attention and recognise this pattern when someone does it time and again with you. Say no to them calmly but firmly. You are not being rude to that person by saying no to something that causes you inconvenience or doesn’t agree with you. It only highlights your assertiveness. When you learn to do this without any awkwardness or guilt the person will think twice before making a request that is not agreeable with you.

Back in my college days one of my friends was trapped in one such situation. His girlfriend then would ask him to help her finish her submissions. Although it was apparent that he himself had a lot on his plate she would insist on his help and he would comply without uttering a word. We would often wonder why he wouldn’t put his foot down and tell her that he had his own assignments to finish. At the end of the year the girl scored high marks for her work whereas my friend suffered badly in his own submissions. It did not end at that. This was a case of love being blind, deaf and definitely dumb. He continued getting exploited by her without ever having a frank conversation with her with the hope of settling down with her eventually. He probably said yes to everything she wanted him to do in spite of not wanting to do it with the hope that she would say yes to his proposal for marriage someday. But at the end of it all, once they were through with college the girl coolly walked away without much of a regret and my friend was left nursing his broken heart and the frustration of getting exploited for all that while.

So well, the world can be a bad place if you allow it to be. It has a fair share of manipulators who are on prowl for someone who cannot say no. Identify people who push your buttons and expect you to say yes every time. It isn’t that difficult, really. When these things happen your mind sends out signals of protest or displeasure. Listen to it. Do yourself a favor. Smile at the person, and say no.


My theme for this year’s ‘Blogging from A-Z Challenge,’ is a set of 26 open ‘Letters to my Son’ from me that I will be writing throughout April. Read more about my theme here.