Pursue What Matters
Episode 160: Book Review – The Art of Saying No
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you find yourself saying yes. And then kicking yourself? Because you said yes. Well, you need this book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:11
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you have trouble saying, No, you are not alone. So many of us are conflict avoidant. We don’t want to disappoint others. We’re total people pleasers. And so what happens is we end up saying yes, when we should say no, now I’ve definitely done other podcasts on this topic. But it’s such an important one, right? This is around boundaries, this is around getting really clear on what you need, what serves you, and what hinders you. And so we are going to talk about a good book, that might be a great resource, if you find yourself saying yes, when you should be saying no. And you know, this book, it gives you a good guide for determining when, when you should say yes, and when you should say No, right? Because we want to be open to opportunities, we want to be open to growth. And so, you know, certainly that means that we need to say yes, outside of our comfort zone at times. And so it’s not that we’re going to say no all the time. But we want to be intentional about that. We want to have good awareness.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:37
And so every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters. By strengthening your confidence to lead I try to do that by helping you lead with clarity, which is all about connecting you to purpose, leading with curiosity, which is all about cultivating self awareness, and self leadership skills, and leading and building a community. So we think about those really important communication skills, and leadership skills when it comes to teams and organizations. And so today, we’re really focusing on actually all three, but we’ll think about curiosity so that you have awareness of what your needs are, we’re going to talk about clarity, because if you don’t have clarity about who you are, and and how you need to be spending your time, you’ll end up saying yes, all the time. And the problem with that is you end up serving other people’s goals rather than your own. And then of course, learning to say no is so important when it comes to teamwork.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:37
Sometimes we think being a good team member is is always saying yes, and that’s not, that’s not accurate, right? Like we need to, we need to set up accountability with one another. And so the book is The Art of saying no how to stand your ground, reclaim your time and energy and refuse to be taken for granted without feeling guilty. Now, I think that little add on at the end, without feeling guilty, and it’s in parentheses, is really the kicker because, you know, maybe you’ve made some progress in saying no, but you feel so bad about it, you feel really guilty, you kind of beat yourself up. And so I think this is a nice little primer to kind of help you strengthen your spine so that you can, you know, say no, and stick to it and really own that, that I think that that’s one of the things that I certainly developed and have really worked towards is, you know, owning owning my know, without apology, and you know, with respect, but also recognizing that. So, so often we get excuses, because we feel bad because we feel guilty because we have some underlying belief that we should be helping someone we should be saying yes. And so, you know, I would say some of my doubts development in this area is I’ve been able to say no, without apology and without beating up on myself and without second guessing. But you know, that requires some clarity about how it is you need to be spending your time and so if you don’t have clarity about that, you can end up saying yes, when you should be saying no. So the author of this book is Damon, Zaha ratties I really apologize. I’m sure I butchered his last name. I’m going to spell it ZHARI A d s. And so let’s hear a little bit about the book. So his first call is to stop being a people pleaser. Learn how to set boundaries and saying no without feeling guilty. So if you if you want to learn more about saying no, but you really don’t have a problem with being a people pleaser. This book would probably still be useful, but it would probably be less useful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:43
So this book is really aimed at the guilty that are saying yes out of obligation out of people pleasing out of fear of upsetting someone. So it’s really really good for those folks, if you have a hard time with boundaries. This is your book. So let’s just read a little bit From the book, so Are you fed up with people taking you for granted? Are you tired of putting other people’s priorities ahead of your own? Discover how to say no with confidence, reclaim your time and create a healthy, balanced lifestyle along the way. Okay, so in the art of saying no, you’ll discover you’ll discover the top 11 reasons we tend to say yes. When we know we should say No, that’s good. I really liked that. And then 10 Simple Strategies for turning people down with finesse. Why saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. And the best way to develop that habit of setting personal and professional boundaries, this takes practice, right? And then how to know whether you’re a people pleaser and how to gauge the severity of the problem. So right there’s this book is really geared towards the people pleaser. So now let’s learn a little bit about the author. I’m gonna call him Damon, I’m gonna call him by his first name, because that looks like a good Greek name is a little hard to pronounce, but I will have the link to the book in the show notes for sure. So he’s a best selling author on Amazon. He delivers step by step actionable advice on how to increase your productivity, improve your time management and design a more rewarding lifestyle in the process, his acclaimed How to Guides are known for their fast paced and actionable tips that can be rewarding, that can create a rewarding lifestyle in the process. So I do think that’s the best way to think about this book, like this book isn’t like, it’s not going to be a profound read where you’re like, oh, my gosh, like, my entire mindset has shifted. But I think the best way to think about it is as a how to guide, right?
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:34
Okay, helped me learn how to say no, and so it’s very practical. It’s definitely it’s all about practical application. And so I think if you just understand, you know, where this where this book is coming from, you won’t try to make it more than it needs to be. But sometimes what can be most helpful is that practical nuts and bolts helped me help me to know what I need to be paying attention to. And so that is definitely this book. So let’s just break down the book a little bit. Of course, we’re not going to spend a lot of time not going to, I’m not going to take you chapter by chapter. But let’s just give you a flavor for the book. So in part one, we have the people pleasing habit, right? So he really makes the case for what people pleasing is how we get caught in it, and how it how it can really undermine us. So he really talks about the psychology of assertiveness, and that that can often be a little bit hard for people pleasers, and then he moves into how we can learn to say no with grace. So right that it doesn’t feel harsh. So sometimes, maybe someone’s told, you know, and it’s just felt really, really hard. And with a hard edge, right. And so he kind of talks about how to say no with grace. And then in part two, he really moves into the heart of the matter, and talks about reasons that we struggle to say no, and so I’m just going to share a couple of these once we talk about the other parts of the book, because I think it can be really helpful. And so maybe you’ll recognize parts in you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:08
And then we have Part three is 10 strategies for saying no, without feeling like a jerk. So that is from the author. And so really good strategies very to the point. And so like I said, a good how to guide. And then in part four, which is a bonus section, he really gets into very specific situations and application. So for example, how to say no to your extended family, I love it. That’s the first one. Because that’s usually where we run into trouble first and our relationships, and then how to say no, to your spouse, to your children to your friends, neighbors, co workers, boss, that’s a big one, how do you say no to your boss, a lot of people feel like they can’t. And so that’s a good little section. I think this next section is really good, too how to say no to your clients. And this is where the art and the grace of connection can really make a difference. And then how to say no to strangers. And I really liked this last one, how to say no to yourself, right now we think about self control, we think about discipline, we think about serving a higher cause. And so sometimes, you know, we think about it as making a choice that your present self doesn’t like, but it’s in service to your future self. So you have to you have to say no to yourself, you have to set boundaries, right? It’s like yeah, of course, we’d all love to go on that huge vacation. But, you know, maybe we should save up the money first. Maybe we need to, you know, take care of, you know, the leaky faucet, those sorts of things. And so I do think that’s valuable discussion.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:39
But for our purposes today, I want to focus in on some of the reasons we struggled to say no, and then just give you a flavor for some of the strategies so you can, you know, do a quick assessment of whether this book could be helpful for you. So of course that’s the goal with the book review is to just give you a flavor and If If the book could be a useful resource, that’s great. Okay, so remember, the author is really talking to the people pleasers among us. And so here are some of the reasons we struggle to say no. So first, we want to avoid offending people. You know, maybe you’re careful, maybe you’re a mind reader. And so you don’t want to offend anyone. And so it leads you to be really careful about what you say very careful about responses, right? Instead of being able to just engage in the present moment, and assess like, does this work for me? Does this not work for me? You might be engaging in this mind reading game of anticipating, like, if I say no, how will this person respond? And can I tolerate that? And so it skews your perception from really connecting to yourself? And you know, what is going to work with me What’s aligned with my values, and my other priorities? And it puts you into the mind of the other person? Like, how are they going to react? Am I going to be okay, can I tolerate distress? And that’s not helpful, because your responsibility is to you your responsibilities to assess what does and does not work for you, against your values against your other obligations, against your energy against your help, all of those good things. And that leads us to really the second, the second reason we struggled to say no, they’re very closely related. And that is, we want to avoid disappointing people. We like people, we care about people, you might consider yourself a helper, which is a really great thing. But right, if you’re always a helper, you’re not going to be a doer, you’re not going to you’re not actually going to make progress on your goals. And so if you’re worried about disappointing people, there’s some good work for you in learning to tolerate distress, because what is true, is you will disappoint people, because you can’t perfectly meet someone else’s needs. Even if you said yes, all the time. Like that is a losing. That’s a losing game. And so really, we want to get centered on where can I contribute? Well, and where you know, do I need to say no, we want to another reason we want to avoid seeming selfish. I think this is a big one, especially for women.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:20
Right, as women we’re seen as nurturers you know that I think that that’s part of who we are as women, and it’s a lovely thing. And for a lot of women, right, and I think this has happened culturally like I think there are lots of factors that contribute to this. But it’s kind of okay for men to be selfish, but for a woman to be selfish. Is is not okay. Right, like selflessness is kind of the highest virtue. And what I want to say is, first of all, say no, does not make you selfish, it makes you responsible. You’re responsible to your commitments. And this idea that saying no, is somehow selfish, we just need to banish that belief from from our mind, because it’s really not helpful. Another reason we struggled to say no, is we desire to help others, right? Like you consider yourself a helper. But you can’t, right, like you can’t give more energy than you have. And so you really do need to respect your limits and your other commitments. Another reason we struggled to say no, is we struggle with low self esteem. And so we believe if we can be really helpful, if we can be the, the hero that comes in and saves the day, we’ll feel better about ourselves, except that doesn’t last for long. And when we’re not pursuing our values, right, we’re not making progress, we’re gonna feel worse about ourselves. Because one of the components of self esteem is mastery. And so sometimes when you get caught saying yes to other people, you’re not developing the skills and the competencies that you need to develop in order to contribute at your highest level.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:58
So we just want to be mindful of that. Of course, you might be helping with your value of service, which is great. But we just we want to keep that in its proper context. Another reason we struggled to say no, is we fear missing out on opportunities. I think this is also a big one. It’s certainly a big one for me, right? What happens if I say no? Am I going to lose other opportunities? Are other opportunities not gonna come up? Because I said no to this and so what I would say is that it’s just a lot of scarcity mindset. And so the work there is not to say yes, because you you have FOMO, right? The work is to really get clear on why you would want to say yes or why you would not want to say yes, and then tolerating the distress of that scarcity mindset and moving more towards an abundance mindset of you know, what if I am centered and if I am thoughtful, that right like it’s going to be okay, and I will actually turn out better work. I, I’ve certainly found that to be true in my own life. And so with part two, we really want to kind of dance with the devil in terms of how we struggled to say no, because as you can pinpoint that it helps you to really overcome it. Because you have a target that you are aiming at. So now I just want to finish up by sharing some components from part three. And these are the 10 strategies for saying no, without feeling like a jerk. So I’m just going to jump through and share a few, but it’ll give you a flavor. And I think it’s really helpful way to think about things. So strategy number one, be direct and straightforward. Amen. All I can say to that is a man. Be direct and straightforward. Resist the urge to offer excuses. That’s another one. That’s I’ve already mentioned that, that’s really big that you can be grounded in your place without apology. And it’s very simple to say, I’m sorry, that won’t work for me. Thank you so much for the request. That’s not going to work with me. And right and a story you don’t you don’t need to equivocate, you don’t need to say, well, what is this? Because if you open the door, if you open that door to Yes, when you’re actually trying to say no, you’re gonna get caught. And it’s not helpful. And that can lead to some, you know, sometimes people stumble, or they’re a little dishonest because they’re trying to cover their tracks. Not helpful, right, we don’t want to move outside of our values.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:34
Because we don’t want to upset someone. So take ownership of your decision as also relate to like standing in your place and just own it, it’s okay. You can ask the requester to follow up later. So sometimes I will say I’m sorry, now is not a good time for me. If you still have this need in six months, right? Like whether it’s like a speaking engagement or something like that, will you please follow up and I will all see how I’m doing at that point. But you only you only do that, if you indeed are actually open to the opportunity. Don’t do it just to push time off and to try and ease that that blow of No, don’t do that that’s not helpful. It creates more frustration for the person who’s requesting something, and it creates more guilt and obligation for you. It’s not helpful. Okay, strategy seven, which is really important. Avoid lying about your availability. I think this is one of the ways that we move out of our values. It’s not because we have ill intent. It’s not because we’re, you know, dastardly liars or anything like that. It’s because we are trying to avoid discomfort. We don’t want to disappoint others. And so we tried to be kind and polite. And I put kind and polite in quotes, because it’s not kind or it’s not kind nor polite, when we’re lying. But what happens is we we lie, I’m so sorry, I have a wedding next weekend, which actually, do you have a wedding next weekend? But it’s, it’s not helpful just on your no. And don’t make excuses for why you can’t say, yes, you can. Another strategy is you can offer an alternative. So this is one that we use, with our work quite a bit because we get a lot of requests, especially for speaking and so you know, maybe the request will come to one of our clinicians, and that clinician can’t meet that obligation for whatever reason. And so they’ll say, I’m so sorry, that won’t work for me. But I have this amazing colleague, who is really a specialist on this topic. And she’s available without work for you. So we want to be helpful. And we want to help create opportunities for other people who could really shine. And so you know, you don’t always have to be the one saying yes, but can you think about how you can support others and how you can offer another alternative? So sometimes it’s the alternative is I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that at the beginning of the week. But when we get to Friday, like my calendar will clear and I am happy to help you that will that work? Sometimes it will sometimes it won’t. But I think that that can be really helpful, because you’re really showing your good intent, right? Like, Hey, I’d really like to be helpful.These are the challenges that I’m contending with.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:19
Okay, another strategy I like this one is describe your lack of bandwidth. It’s okay to say, You know what, I have a lot on my plate right now, that’s not going to work. So that just happened recently with some lacrosse activities, you know, parents are always being pulled in to help which is, which is good and important, right? coaches need a lot of help schools need a lot of help with that. But you know, the request was made. And so I jumped in and said, This is what I can help with. I can’t I can’t be the organizer of it. Because, you know, I’m managing all the stats for game to game and that’s very, very time intensive. It’s also really fun. But basically I lead With what I could do, and then just acknowledged, hey, my bandwidth is pretty full with the ongoing stats, obligations. And so that’s okay. People respect that. But you don’t need to do that as an excuse, right? The reason I was doing that is because legitimately, I don’t have a lot of time and energy to take on an organizational role. Plus, is, it’s really important for parents to see the lay of the land, right? Like, okay, well, why isn’t this parent helping? Okay, well, this parent is spending, you know, all these hours a week, managing stats, or taking care of team dinners, and that sort of thing. And so having more awareness, I think, can be really helpful. And not in a, hey, you know, you need to do more blame game. But just in terms of awareness, and kind of understanding the larger context, that can be really helpful. And then another strategy is confront your fear of missing out, I think this is really good. And this is distress tolerance. This is knowing like, I’m okay, like, what I’m focusing on is really important. And so you realign with your values and your goals. And I think that that can be helpful. And then the other thing I would say is maybe just get off social media. Because if you’re afraid of missing out, sometimes you’ll see evidence of missing out on social media. And just I think this is where being grounded in, in your values and your goals can be really helpful to kind of help you manage some of that distress. And so there are, there are other great strategies, as well. And then he talks about some of the how to help you with saying no, but again, I think this is a really good how to guy for the art of saying no. And so if this could be helpful for you, if you are a people pleaser, if you recognize, gosh, this is a struggle for me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:51
This is a quick book, like you could probably read it, you know, in one city or over a couple of days. It’s very practical. It’s one of those books that you could go back to time and time again. And so again, the book is called The Art of Saying No, I’m sorry for the how I pronounced that name. But I have a link to the book in the show notes. And so head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/160-artofsayingno. So one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/160-artofsayingno. And I hope that you know, if you decide to read the book, I’d love to hear what you think of it. I will have more resources tied to this book. So some of his strategies on social media. So that’s also a great place to learn some more so you can find me @dr.melissasmith on Instagram and in the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember, love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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