"No is a very simple word. One syllable. Two letters. One of the shortest words in the English language, yet one of the most difficult for women to say at work." This quote comes from psychiatrist and researcher Nanette Gartrell, who wrote a book called, "My Answer Is No . . . If That's Okay With You."
Recently, I was invited to conduct a workshop for working women on the topic of saying no at work. We talked about the fact that many women have trouble with this and take on numerous activities, way beyond what they want. We discussed the various reasons why women have trouble saying no at work. Based on our conversations and research in the area, some the reasons include the following:
Women are people pleasers.
They put the needs of others before their own.
They want to be compassionate and help others.
They want to be liked.
They don't want to be rude.
They want to show they are team players.
They worry what others will say if they do say "no."
They are afraid of conflict.
They have a desire to keep the peace.
They don't know how to let others down gracefully.
They worry over lost opportunities if they say no.
They worry about burning bridges.
They feel a need for control in how something is done; so if they don't do it themselves, they figure it might be done poorly.
Yet, taking on so many activities at work may result in exhaustion and feelings of deprivation in sleep, emotional support, physical energy, and time to themselves, as well as feeling empty and resentful.
I then shared with the group some strategies for what women can do to say no. Based on research and my own work with women, here are some of those strategies: