The Two Words That Shape Our Life’s StoryJun 14, 2021
By Teresa Peters.
YES, two words shape our life’s story. We need to develop a healthy ‘NO habit’ and this involves an internal mindset shift.
Understanding why we say YES when we should be saying NO is the first step in learning how not to do it. We do this by looking into our beliefs and values so that we manage our internal checks and boundaries.
WHY DO WE SAY YES?
This can be for a few reasons like; people pleasing, not pausing to reflect, you can't say NO to your boss, peer pressure, or you’re not self-aware enough to know what you want or what your boundaries are.
We worry that by saying NO we are perceived as lazy, selfish, uncooperative, or not a team player.
I invite you to consider someone who does say NO and is assertive. What opinion do you hold of them? There is a difference between passive, aggressive and assertive.
On occasion, saying NO is simply the right thing to do, not just because it suits us but because the same YES would compromise something much deeper and more important, such as your values, your ethics, or your morals. Sometimes your thoughts are your best guide in this situation; if it feels wrong, it genuinely is wrong. Many of us don’t have a clear idea of what our beliefs or values systems are, and we are all unique. When you say YES to someone, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself. It may help you to learn more about your own beliefs. You can start by asking yourself some questions:
- What would you not be prepared to do even if it would help you to succeed at work?
- Will I be able to look at myself in the mirror tomorrow if I do this today?
Sometimes saying NO is important because if we say YES, we’ll compromise our boundaries, and boundaries define the emotional and mental space between us and something or someone else. These can be physical and tangible, or emotional and intangible. If you've ever said to anyone, ‘I draw the line here’, then you’re setting a boundary. Boundaries are there to help us. They protect us. They bring clarity to what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s, and they preserve our physical and emotional energies, so that we can stay focused on what’s most important.
Great questions to help elicit your values are:
- What’s important to you about that?
- What else is important?
I invite you to draw out a stick man and add a cloud above their head, a heart to the left of the chest and a circle for the gut - make the cloud, heart, and circle big enough to write within them. Now ask yourself, what does your head, heart and gut say in a certain situation?
Notice these feelings, as they will help you to clarify your boundaries. Your feelings in the head, heart and gut are cues for yourself that a boundary may be present. If a situation occurs several times and you experience a negative response to it several times, then this is an important point. It may help if you can ask yourself, ‘Where am I on a scale of one to five where five is extremely uncomfortable?’
Perhaps you’re more visual or you love metaphors. In this case, imagine having a compass in the palm of your hand. YES is north and NO is south. The next time you are faced with a decision to make, look into your palm and visualise in which direction the needle is pointing, as you CHOOSE between those TWO little words, YES and NO
LISTENING IS AS IMPORTANT AS SAYING THOSE TWO LITTLE WORDS
There are many forms of listening; 1st degree (passive), 2nd degree (selective) and 3rd degree (active listening). We must remember that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. It is important to find that place of listening in order to understand others and to listen with compassion. As Steven Covey says, ‘Most people don't listen to understand, they listen to reply.’ If we're doing that then we're not actually listening with any attention, because we're always thinking about what we can say next. This is around cultivating that compassion.
When is the last time you felt heard? How does it feel to be listened to when you aren't putting across your opinion, and how does it feel not to be listened to? I ask you this because sometimes when someone asks you to do something they don’t always want you to just say YES. There could be something underlying; they may simply want a sounding board and to feel empowered to do it for themselves.
Yesterday I received an email asking me to do something. My gut reaction was to reply and say I haven’t got time. I left the email and slept on it. This morning I responded with a question: ‘When is the latest deadline for submitting this?’ I had assumed they needed it straight away. It turns out I have a month to do it. I used my head and cognitive thought process to ask a question before jumping in and assuming because my heart and compass were pointing in the YES direction.
WHAT TO SAY AND HOW TO SAY ‘NO’
In my training and coaching we dig deeper into these tips, but here’s a list to get started with:
be considered, direct, truthful, clear, be firm and unwavering when you speak, smile, still your body language and listen but don’t give too much away, avoid asking questions and actively listen, do politely interrupt if you know that NO is the answer, pre-empt them to save them asking you or pre-empt by saying how busy you are before they can ask you.
BREATHING, COMPASSION AND EMPATHY
On a final note, about the YES’s and NO’s that shape our life’s story. Pause and breathe before answering, try to place yourself in other people’s shoes and have compassion for yourself and others. By giving fewer things more attention, and through understanding why we say YES and NO, we are one step closer to shaping the best life story ever.
Teresa offers free 25-minute ignition sessions. Visit ‘accelerator coaching’ to book a session time.
Teresa Peters is accredited at Senior Practitioner level with the EMCC, as an Executive Coach and Personal Performance Coach. She is also highly trained in managing teams effectively in a virtual world. She empowers Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs and Teams to find clarity, focus and transformation, both professionally and personally, using a solution-focused approach and DiSC profiling.
Accelerator Coaching offers a range of online and face to face support services using an empathic, human-centred approach combined with Teresa's corporate experience, 20 years in sales development and business acumen. She also co-founded another successful business where they've published 32 recipe books. She is an ethical coach who has 500+ hours coaching individuals and she has regular coaching herself. You can find out more about Teresa and her brilliant Accelerator Coaching here.
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