Series on Happiness: #5 Know when to say “no”


This post follows from my previous post on “Live and Let live”.

As mentioned in my previous post, there are instances when we should have said “no” instead of “yes”. While my previous post has provided some relevant examples when we should say “no”, I have not elaborated on the reasons. In this post, I will be elaborating on these reasons.

If we are to sum up our life experiences, we can generally see a pattern when it comes to us feeling unhappy when we say yes in certain situations. And when we are unhappy, it is almost impossible to communicate well with others. So, to resolve this issue, let’s have a look at the following scenarios where we should say “no” instead of “yes”:

  • When there is a clash in our belief systems and the acts that we are engaged in: For example, when we see a group of school children beating up a fellow student, we should act if we believe in the value of righteousness. Failing to act is an act in and of itself. And in most cases, it goes against our belief/value systems and we will be unhappy about our reactions to the incidents. Thus, we should respond.
  • When our personal time is being unreasonably consumed by individuals making unreasonable demands: Each of us have the same amount of time per day and it’s up to us to decide on what to do with it. Although we have dedicated a certain amount of time in the work place, it is unreasonable for anyone (and yes, that includes our bosses) to demand that we work through the weekends.  This demand may be imposed by our personal friends as well. When we find ourselves spending more and more hours in the work place, we should voice out. Or be miserable. It’s a choice.
  • Romantic relationships: Some of us do experience the difficulty of turning someone down when they attempt to date us. We feel obligated to grant them a request since it takes courage for someone to come forward to request for a date and some of us dislike engaging in the act of rejection. Furthermore, we feel loved and liked the attention given by the other party. All these considerations make it almost impossible to say “no”. But it’s best if we look at things this way: Accepting a date from someone whom we have no romantic affection for is not right as it somewhat leads the other party on and giving them the affirmation that the relationship is going to work out (when it’s apparent to ourselves that it will not, in this case). Unless we feel that love can be nurtured in the absence of any initial chemistry, it’s best to reject the dating invite outright. The other party should get the message after a few consecutive rejections from us.
  • Rules and Instructions: Personally, I am someone who abides strictly by the rules and regulations. This is especially important for an educator who can’t afford to be lenient to students when they come in late for class, lest these students set a bad example for the rest. Rules and regulations help us in this case, since they draw a clear line between right and wrong, thus making easier for us to say “”no”.
  • Prioritising: When we have made a commitment to attend say, a friend’s wedding, it’s not right to turn down the invitation a few days prior to the event even if it’s because one of our childhood friends whom we have just chanced upon has subsequently extended an invite to us for a social gathering. Impromptu cancelling of a pre-arranged agreement (especially if we have already given our promises) is one sure sign of damaging our good standing with friends. More importantly, it destroys our credibility as an individual. And individuals with poor credibility are seldom good communicators since there is no trust. So, if we are in this situation, it’s best to think twice before acting. It will be good to prioritise.

I am sure that you are able to come up with many other reasons why we should say “no” in life. One good way to determine if a situation requires us to say no is by asking ourselves a question: how comfortable are we when we are engaging in a specific activity? If we are uncomfortable with our decision, it’s a good time to think about saying no. Having said this, I will like to add that we have or need to do things that are uncomfortable in life sometimes.  For instance, we should take care of our loved ones when they are sick even though it might exhaust or tire us. We should try our best to help our colleagues in their time of need as long as it’s within our means and within reasonable limits. We should try to take time out for a little exercise even in the midst of our (at times) hectic schedule to pursue a healthy lifestyle

This article will conclude my series on happiness. I hope that these articles will enable you to increase the level of happiness in your lives. When this happens, I am sure that you will be a more successful communicator. 

One of the greatest failings of a communicator is an inability to allow. What is meant by this? Let’s have a look at this issue in my next post “The importance of ‘allowing’ in communications”


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