“Why some people can’t say NO?!”

Perhaps this issue could be looked at from three aspects (among others):

1- Time:

According to North Carolina Researchers, “People are more likely to expect a future surplus of time than they are to expect a future surplus of money.” If you’re like most people, you say ‘yes’ to do more things than you could possibly have time for, your appointment book is full but when it comes to actually showing up, you discover you’re too busy to do everything you’ve promised. You overcommit because you expect to have more time in the future than you do in the present. But then tomorrow becomes today and… yesterday’s “yes” becomes today’s “damn!” And you find yourself making excuses.

Here’s the interesting part. Researchers Gal Zauberman, Ph.D., and John Lynch, Jr., found we are more prone to mistakenly expect a future surplus of time than we are to expect a future surplus of money. We seem to be much more accurate in our money forecasting”

The future is always ideal: The fridge is stocked, the weather clear, the train runs on schedule and meetings end on time. Today, well, stuff happens. That’s because every day’s a little different, say the researchers. The nature of time fools us and we “forget” about how things fill our days.” 1

2- Reward:

Some researchers believe that the function of “Reward Center” of the brain or ‘nucleus accumbens’ is actually responsible for some people find it simply impossible to resist. In their stimulus study on food and sex, Bill Kelley, associate professor of Dartmouth’s department of psychological and brain sciences, says the study demonstrated that the stronger the response to a stimulus, the less able the subject is to say ‘no’.2 So perhaps this breakthrough may assist us to consider that there might be a sort of mental satisfaction from accepting more than what we could chew!

 3- Approval:

Let’s accept this fact. Often when we make a commitment, it is not for improving opportunities or building up long lasting relations, they are for momentary approval from those who surround us or those we wish to keep satisfied. At workplaces this often happens to show flexibility and to some extent to prove our capabilities, even though we know that we don’t have time for it.

Many staff say ‘Yes’ because they don’t want to let down their boss and look incompetent or incapable. Saying that you don’t have time to do a task might make you look uncooperative but it doesn’t help anybody if you say ‘Yes’ while knowing you can’t complete the task.  It would just create a mess.

This can apply in our private lives too. Saying ‘No’ might cast you as ‘cold’, ‘mean’ and ‘less understanding’, but bear in mind that sometimes saying ‘Yes’ without a real well-calculated commitment, would just create ‘crisis’ and might take your peaceful life away!

If at work, learn how to tactfully and diplomatically say No.

–   Thank your boss for the opportunity (Because at least there is a learning opportunity in everything a company does);

–    Ask for time to see how you can manage the task;

–    Once you are sure you can’t make it, politely remind your boss on your other projects at hand and ask if the new task is more urgent than the on-going ones;

–    Ask if the new task can be shared with your peers (share the credit and raise the spirit of teamwork);

–    Be honest and if you can’t undertake the task, say it.

In private life, if people around you are inconsiderate and can’t appreciate your excuse and still push you to commit against your will and interest, learn even not to explain yourself for saying ‘No’, because in my view, ‘NO, IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE!’


1-      Hara Estroff Marano – Published on March 16, 2005, Psychologytoday.com

2-      Daniel Miller – Mail Online 24 April 2012 dailimail.co.uk

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