Knowing to say No – Daring to say Yes

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What if saying “YES” meant being in LIFE?

Recently, I received yet another customer request for … yesterday. The water drop? I realized that this way of working was creating a great deal of suffering within me. And I asked myself whether I should say YES or NO.

I have stopped counting the number of coaching contracts where one of the objectives is to “know how to say NO”. What if, instead of knowing how to say “NO”, you dared to say “YES”?

You would like to “know how to say NO”? You already know how to do it – too well, actually. By learning to “say YES”, you can move forward, evolve… and enjoy yourself.

Change one word to change your life!

When Tony Blair says “The art of leadership is to say no, not yes. It’s very easy to say yes”, he’s referring to a real NO, an act of courage rather than laissez faire.

How many people, women and men, leaders and managers would like to “know how to say NO” … to impossible deadlines, to the demands and requirements of the team, customers, friends, family, etc.? By saying NO, they would like to be able to stay the course, prioritize, decide, balance their lifetimes…

On closer inspection, they already know how to say NO. They even spend their time doing it, without conscience. They say NO to themselves. NO to their own needs and desires.

It’s as if they were a golden eagle with its wings clipped.

So, what is the real need? To dare to say YES! To say YES to yourself first. And then really, freely say YES, when it’s a mature choice. Let’s go a step further.

1- What does NO mean?

What need is met by the inability to say NO to others? Is it to please, to give satisfaction? Is it to be accepted, integrated, recognized? Is it to be loved? To be legitimate? When did this behavior start? In what situations does it manifest itself? What happens when they succeed in saying NO to others? What do they experience? Let’s look at some examples.

Kate is the brilliant head of a company that has been growing steadily for a decade. After starting out with just a dozen engineers and technicians, she now manages over a hundred employees. Constantly in demand, in the thick of things, she fills in, compensates, and takes action. She never says NO to a request for help. She even takes on what her managers don’t do. Her body can’t keep up. She sleeps badly, feels tense and overwhelmed. But she says nothing…

Luke is a manager who works long hours. Interrupting his tasks to deal with his team’s requests, he only manages to make progress late at night. Whereas he used to promote new ideas, he now only focuses on objectives, processes, KPIs and performance. No matter how much time he devotes to it, his team is never satisfied. So, he does more and more. Neither his body nor his morale can keep up. Exhausted, he occasionally loses his temper and blames himself.

Both Kate and Luke are unable to give an explicit “NO” to multiple requests. As soon as someone calls on them, they give up what they are doing to answer. They anticipate questions, provide solutions and take charge of tasks.

By not saying NO, they don’t actually stop doing it.

NO first of all to the real demands of their partners.  

“NO: I’m not really listening… because I know (think I know) the need.  

NO: I don’t recognize your ability because I’m giving you (my) solution.  

NO: I don’t dare to tell you (tell me) that you’ve reached your threshold of incompetence, so I’m doing it  for you”.  

Despite themselves, they create the conditions for disengagement. 

NO then, to their own needs.  

“NO, my work isn’t important: it can take second place to other people’s work.  NO, saving time for myself, to think, is less valuable than saving time for others.  NO, it’s impossible to hold everyone accountable: I don’t have the right to do that.  NO, saying stop, setting limits is not acceptable: my team, my hierarchy, my peers, my friends, my family  are going to reject me, not (no longer) like me”.  

The less the eagle uses its wings, the more they lose their strength.  

These “NOs” lock you in, hinder creativity, and hinder development and relationships. The beliefs underlying these NOs are numerous. They are rooted in our life’s journey.  Until the day when the instinct for life, the desire takes the reins. 

The eagle realizes it can move its wings.

yes - no
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2- What does YES mean?

By freeing themselves from the beliefs that limit them, what resources can Kate and Luke (like others)  count on? What do they have that gives them satisfaction? What are they proud of? What can they rely  on in what they do and, above all, what they are?  

What personal need do they want to say YES to? What if, rather than hoping to please (and projecting to  displease), rather than hoping to be recognized (and anticipating being illegitimate, an imposter) …, they  dared to look in the mirror, to see all that is competent, pleasing, unique in themselves? If they dared to  love themselves as they are, what would happen to them? 

When Kate and Luke become aware of their needs and listen to their desires, they say “YES” to what is  essential. “Because I’m worth it”. They then dare to say many YES. 

When Kate says YES to herself, she discovers that by listening, by questioning her request, she enables her  team to gain confidence and move forward. She lightened her own load and found time to think calmly. By  daring to let go of her need to be in charge of everything, Kate feels she is back where she belongs. She is  back to the visionary, dynamic leader she had lost sight of. 

When Luke says YES to himself, he dares to express what he needs to function with confidence with histeam. He discovers that by listening to (real) needs, he enables his team to move forward in a calmer working  environment. Luke regains perspective and serenity. He regains his creativity, drive, commitment, and sense  of humor. He regains his position as undisputed leader.  

Both recognize their own value. 

When the eagle spreads its wings, it rediscovers all its power of life, all its light and free beauty. It inspires.  

In conclusion, rather than wondering how to say NO, Kate, Luke and all the others should identify what  they want to say YES to. “What” also means “who”. 

At my client’s request, I decided to say NO. I felt better immediately. No more weight on my shoulders. 

The person who says YES to themself has all the power of being to say YES, consciously, fully to others …  and to life.

Daring to say YES to oneself means bringing out and anchoring “I”, acting freely. In other words, to create  a relationship of quality and parity with others.  

The person who says a true YES to themself, is ready to discover: 

– Openness to self and others: really listening to hear and welcome. 

– Usefulness of actions and ideas: (re)finding meaning and legitimacy. 

– Identity: embodying one’s potential, one’s power. 

I hope you feel like saying YES to yourself.