Most of us can say “yes” to this question. We choose politeness or being agreeable over our feelings and needs in social situations. However, ask yourself: How much time, energy, feelings and resources do you want to give out for free so that someone you want to get away from doesn’t feel upset or hurt?
First, try not to get into the situation in the first place. At work, you have a degree of control through scheduling meetings, announcing that you have to leave in a half-hour or answering emails at your own pace. However, if you find yourself roped into a situation or conversation you want to get out of, you can say, “This deserves more time and attention than I have right now, so let’s pick this up at another time.” Then, get out of there. It is entirely possible to maintain your manners when saying “no.”
Or what if you find yourself in a toxic relationship? “Toxic people will keep you off track and make your life unenjoyable,” writes Kimanzi Constable, a consultant. “Purge negativity from your life and business whenever it’s possible.” You can always say, “This relationship deserves more time and attention than I am able to give, so I need to end it.” Of course, toxic people are toxic for a reason. Saying this may not lead to their acceptance of your boundaries. However, remember there is a certain magic in the repetition of the word “no.” Say “no” to requests to come over or meet up, “no” to requests for phone calls and texts and “no” to everything else.
Saying “no” to draining demands in your life can unlock a newfound self-assurance, productivity and accomplishment.
Each “yes” is worth 1 point. If you scored:
4: You’re a major people pleaser. It’s interfering with you getting what you want out of life. People pleasing comes from a fear of rejection, failure or disappointing others, so it’s time to examine where those fears come from and find a professional guide — a licensed therapist, social worker or psychologist who is knowledgeable in this area of personal development. Ask people who are good at saying “no” for tips and mentorship, if possible.
2-3: You’re sometimes in the driver’s seat, and sometimes an unwilling passenger in your own car on somebody else’s trip. You likely break your own rules, because you haven’t given yourself the go-ahead to put your needs first and haven’t strongly articulated the rules to yourself. Give yourself permission to put you first, and figure out the areas where your needs are neglected. Need to exercise? Save money? Stop drinking during the workweek? Make the rules that bind you to these behaviors (“I will exercise five days a week at this time and nothing except an emergency in my schedule will interfere”) and then any request that conflicts with your rules must be met with a polite but firm “no.” (There are exceptions to this, of course, but not many.)
0-1: You’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. Keep on driving, and if you see someone struggling with people pleasing, offer your help. You clearly have valuable emotional intelligence that needs to be shared.