Personal and Career Coaching


Saying No and Why We Want to Please

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 6:05 AM Comments comments ()

Do you often find yourself saying "yes" when you actually wanted to say "no"?


Do you often end up accepting invitations you don't want to go to? running errands for others when you haven't even done your own? spending hours in conversations you are not interested in? always being the one who stays late for "emergencies" at work?


On the whole, most of us have been brought up to be nice, helpful and accomodating. Which is a good thing. The capacity for giving is an essential part of our socialization. Through generosity and a certain degree of self-sacrifice, we learn what makes us human, capable of empathy, love, compassion and solidarity.

Problems arise when we give in to others unthinkingly, to the detriment of our own selves, even in situations where it is neither necessary nor useful. We give in to others because we associate being "good" with saying "yes" and in some ways also because we seek their approval. Since childhood, being "nice" is what gained us approval, sympathy and affection from others. Compliance and obedience were rewarded whereas independence and refusal were often frowned upon and viewed as a form of defiance. It is not surprising that as adults we are inclined to try to please others by saying "yes" and are reluctant to displease them by saying "no".


This reasoning, however, is erroneous. What we most need, to be balanced and capable of giving, is approval from ourselves rather than from the outside. Furthermore, to be a "good" person, we must practice with ourselves. By respecting our own space and needs, we can truly respect others.


By accepting only requests that we sincerely agree to and are able to fulfill,  we become aligned with our values and feel more confident about having our own, legitimate space in the world.

But enough theory, find practice tips in our next posts!