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Saying NO Is a Strength 

By Ganiu Okunnu & Islamiyyah Atunshe
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Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying ‘yes’ too quickly and not saying ‘no’ soon enough.”

―Josh Billing.
As social animals, we crave relationship and our existence is greatly influenced by the kind of relationship we have. Our relationship thrive on concept of reciprocity, thus, we feel socially obliged to say yes to requests coming our ways with expectations that ours too will be granted. We believe that, by the existence of unwritten rules or norms, we are entitled so some treatments from others vice versa others who equally share the same expectation when making their demands.

At one time or the other, we were faced with the dilemma of rejecting request from friends, close relatives or co-workers. There have been instances where people take undue advantage of our act of kindness and willingness to go extra mile to make them happy by making incessant requests for assistance. Rendering assistance is a noble act and a source of happiness to the giver and the recipient, but at times, doing so comes with unimaginable mental and physical burden.

What do you say to a co-worker who keeps dumping his or her tasks on your table while you have mountain of tasks to execute. What about a friend or relative who keeps coming for financial request while you are struggling with the few financial resources at your disposal.

How do you tell a person who keep requesting for your attention at all time while you desire few moments for yourself and family. As the popular saying, man will keep coming for more and more, so you must learn how to say NO at times to preserve your mental health and freedom.

In order to be perceived as pleasant, most people had acceded to selfish requests from friends, relatives, colleagues or loved ones which had constituted great burden onto them.

People spend their precious resources (money, time, properties) trying to appease others who will never stop making requests. Such people wrongly assume that if they keep saying yes to all requests that come their ways, they will be perceived as being kind or nice. No, people will think of you the way they think of you regardless, of what you do to please them.

Have we ever asked ourselves the extent to which we are pleased with God in spite of all His Blessings on us? We make complaints virtually out of every thing that come our ways from God. Even our Creator confirms the fact that in spite of all His Blessings on us, most of us remain ungrateful.

Ineed, [O men,] We have given you a [bountiful] place on earth, and appointed thereon means of livelihood for you: [yet] how seldom are you grateful! (Q 7:10).

And whenever danger befalls you at sea, all those (powers] that you want to invoke forsake you, [and nothing remains for you] save Him: but as soon as He has brought you safe ashore, you turn aside [and forget Him]-for, indeed, bereft of all gratitude is man! (Q 17:67).

If our Creator has not been able to satisfy us and His numerous Blessings have not changed the hearts of people, why do you think saying yes all the time will make you exceptional? We also need to understand that not everything is our responsibility. You cannot do everything, neither can you satisfy everybody.

If you are a people-pleaser you might feel its your responsibility to say yes to everyone and everything. But the truth is this: Making everybody happy isnt your job, and not everything is your responsibility. You will never please everyone, and over committing can keep you from doing anything well. Decide what you choose to be responsible for and focus on always keeping your commitments.

Having too many responsibilities by saying Yes to all requests can be overwhelming and downright exhausting. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first and accept that you will have to say no to a friend's favour, especially if it negatively impacts your mental state and health. Relax, and enjoy some "me-time!"

THE ACT OF SAYING NO
According to Gustavo Razzetti, you must learn the act of saying NO for the following reasons:

1. Let your purpose define your life. Focus your choices. Say yes to anything that will help you achieve your purpose. Say no to distractions and things that dont matter to you. Say no to shortcuts. Dont be afraid of being judged. Saying no is not just a right. You deserve it.

2. Focus on what really matters. Having focus is critical. But its never easy.

And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we dont get on the wrong track or try to do too much. [] Its only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. Steve Jobs

3. Exploration is nice, but you also need depth. Your decisions define your taste, thus requiring you to make sacrifices. To focus on what you like, not on what others say its cool.

If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. Tom Rath

4. Speak with conviction: Saying no is a decision. When we have clarity, our words have power.

A no uttered from deepest conviction is better than a yes merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Gandhi

There is power in the simple act of saying no to some requests. The biggest challenge when it comes to saying no is that we worry that well be thought to be negative or unhelpful. We must understand that what other people think of us is none of our business. The only thing you have to concern yourself with is who you are and whether you are being true to yourself.

While saying yes is thought to be courageous and gracious, but the simple act of saying no has power and can often be an act of great courage, and most likely many of us should probably do more often. The next time youre tempted to automatically say yes, remember there is great power in saying no and sometimes its the best answer for everyone.

THE ART OF SAYING NO
It is said that learning an act might take you a day or a week but learning an art is what takes 10,000 hours. When you are clear on your values and goals, it becomes easy to say no, creating rules that makes saying no so much easier. Saying no gives you the ability to set your own boundaries.

To say NO, you must first determine what is at stake meaning, the personalities and the issues involved, that is it low stake or high stake. Low stake means saying no to things that dont require much decision or rejecting unrealistic offer from low stake person, i.e a stranger or people of low reputation. High stake on the other hand refers to request from acquaintances. Understanding the situation will determine your response strategy.

1. One technique of saying NO is the Refusal Strategy. According to a study by Professor Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt in the Journal of Consumer Research saying I dont as opposed to I cant allowed participants to extract themselves from unwanted commitment.

First, practice being more firm when the stakes are low. For example, when a cashier asks you to sign up for a store credit card you dont want, try saying I dont use store credit cards instead of a passive Not today, but thank you, which implies your decision is up for debate. When a friend who defaulted the last time he borrowed money from you make the same request, tell the person politely, I dont have.

2. Ill get back to you: This response is suited when you are not prepared for such request from people of high value. This will afford you the time to think through and even consult. The statement I will get back to you has signalled to the person who makes such request how important he or she is to you and will appreciate your eventual response.

3. Maybe later. This response sounds like an interesting opportunity, indicating your willingness to help or respond positively at another time but not now.

4. Offer an alternative (probably we should do this or that). This response suggest your willingness to help by offering alternative.

*Dr Okunnu, a PRAD and Health Communication Scholar, lectures at the Department of Mass Communication, Crescent University, Abeokuta,Nigeria. Atunshe, a videographer, is a final-year student of the department.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Ganiu Okunnu & Islamiyyah Atunshe and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."