It can be really hard for people to say no, especially women. I’m not going to go into the psychology of why this is, because I have no idea and don’t want to speculate. But I’ve seen women struggle with it a LOT.
My Mum is a senior in her lab. She was really excited about retirement, but her colleagues have asked her to stay on and do some part-time work. Cue a lot of fretting from my Mother, this is not what she wants, she just wants to go and this extra pressure on her to do something she doesn’t want to is making her miserable. No matter how many times I tell her that she should just say ‘no’. It’s not that easy for her.
I now relish saying no, and here’s why: I understand how bad it looks to not say no to people and instead string them along. Saying no is not just beneficial for you and your own peace of mind. It’s kinder on the person you’re saying no to.
In the business world, I’ve come across a lot of people who go cold on me rather than saying ‘no thanks’, or ‘I’ve changed my mind’ and it really sucks. I said ‘no’ to a lady who enquired about my services, she wasn’t a good lead for me and I didn’t think she’d be able to afford me. I offered instead to take her for a coffee and give her some free business advice. She was excited about it at first, but then went cold and did not respond to my messages asking her when and where she’d like to meet. It messed me around because I had to keep the day open in case I heard from her. It would have been so much better for me if she’d just have said, actually I think I’ll be okay on my own.
So it’s now my attitude that saying no well is a form of professionalism. It lets people know exactly where they stand and you know what? It’s harder to say than it is for people to hear.
The sooner my Mum says ‘no’ to her boss, the sooner she can stop worrying and the sooner her work can make other plans.