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Advice

3 Reasons No is My Favorite Word

A few years ago I was challenged with a difficult boss. I was already unhappy in my role and disappointed that my first woman manager and I were bumping heads. In retrospect, she was young and I don’t think had very much “People Management” experience at the time. With a history as a kindergarten teacher, she would often speak incredibly softly, slowly and delicately.

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While it might have been comforting for an entry level employee, I was used to-and preferred—more direct responses and critiques. 

The tone she took felt extremely condescending and eventually I had to speak up. I made clear what sort of communication felt correct and professional to me and asked that she make efforts to approach tough topics differently and, ultimately, with more confidence than I felt she had been. 

Later, I found myself deflecting stories of office drama between her and other women department heads. My colleagues and I had discussed openly that she was a peculiar culture fit for the company at the time so I wasn’t surprised she was bumping heads with other people. As her subordinate—and in general—I didn’t care and was uncomfortable with the small confessions of insecurity in an intimate setting—my regular performance check ins. 

In that situation, I was indirectly direct about my “no”, firmly pushing the conversation in different directions. 

“No” isn’t a bad word, it’s not always harsh. No is a boundary and we all need to learn it.

Here’s three reasons why "no" is my favorite word: 

1. It Exercises Confidence

It’s easy to say yes in most situations, especially at work—you don’t want to upset anyone or jeopardize your opportunity. But a lot of the times when someone asks you a question, they’re not actually expecting a yes—they just want to know where you stand—and you should be honest about it

2. It allows you to take control of your environment:

Creating boundaries is an important thing to learn as a professional—sure the employee who works overtime every week LOOKS nice, but what good is an exhausted employee? What are you bringing to the table when you’ve depleted your spoons?

3. It makes your “yes” more meaningful

Imagine running an idea by someone who loves everything? How can you trust their opinion? Someone who has clearly formed their own views and knows what they like and don’t like gains more trust from their peers and more respect from their superiors. 

There’s a lot of pressure on women to be agreeable and submissive. We can have difficulty saying no, that we endanger ourselves in our own spaces. 

No is not standing for micro aggressions from a bigoted colleague.

No is negotiating the salary you want instead of just taking the one offered.

No is even in leaving the job you have for the job you want.

Every act of love for yourself and your dreams—is a no to being unhappy. 

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Do you have a winning No moment? Or maybe you're still struggling with saying no to something? Drop me a line below!

-Cairo