It seems like it’s time for a little chat about the power of assertiveness and saying no. By Kiesha Meikle
As a freelancer, I’ve seen how easy it is to fall into the trap of people-pleasing. You want to be seen as agreeable, as easy to work with, as the kind of person who doesn’t cause problems – who just focuses on solutions and gets the job done. But the truth is, saying yes all the time can be harmful to health and happiness.
So, let’s talk about why we – yes, you included – need to start saying no more often.
If you are convinced that this isn’t you, answer this: Are you feeling overcommitted and overwhelmed in any area of your life? It may not be work – it could be family, friends anything. If so, then you have probably been saying yes too much. You may think you are being dynamic and solution focused, helpful and caring. But spreading yourself too thin, trying to please everyone and doing everything is a recipe for an unfulfilled life.
One For Your Life Toolbox: The Power of Assertiveness and Saying No
‘Saying no allows you to conserve energy and focus on the things that really matter.’
Look, it’s not just about protecting your time and energy – it’s also about standing up for your values. by saying no to something that doesn’t align with your beliefs or goals, you send a message to the world and to yourself that you won’t simply compromise – you take a clear stance on not forsaking your time and principles just to be agreeable.
Worth and autonomy…
Of course, saying no isn’t always easy. It can be scary to turn down an opportunity or disappoint someone. But the more you practice saying no, the easier it becomes. And the benefits are well worth the initial discomfort. It’s an act of self-care.
Assertiveness in the work place.
Ah, women and assertiveness in the workplace – a topic that has been deliberated over for quite some time. Discussions around ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ and ‘having a seat at the table’ abound. Memes, quotes, gifs…this subject has been done to death, but are you truly listening or simply nodding? First of all, let’s clear something up. Assertiveness is not the same as aggression – it’s not about being pushy or demanding, it’s about being confident and direct. And yet, women are STILL so often discouraged from being assertive. Rather, we are rewarded for being polite and accommodating, but the truth is, assertiveness is a crucial skill for success in any field.
Women – particularly women of colour – still face a lot of challenges in the professional world, from pay inequality to discrimination and harassment. Being assertive is only one defence, but it means speaking up when we’re being undervalued or mistreated, negotiating for better pay and benefits, and advocating for our own career advancement. It means taking up space and making our voices heard, even when it feels uncomfortable and it’s met with negativity. This of course is not the solution – the solution is that those who are actually doing the mistreating, discrimination and harassment actually stop. In the meantime here are a few women’s charities doing some great work:
Girls Out Loud
London Black Women’s Project
Bloody Good Period
The Fawcett Society
Women in Sport
Helen Bamber Foundation
Rights of Women
MSI Reproductive Choices
The Malala Fund
Wish Women’s Mental Health Charity
Young Women’s Trust
Women for Refugee Women
Jewish Women’s Aid
Housing For Women
Speaking up when you are uncomfortable
Women are told to put others first, whether that’s our colleagues, our peers, our partners and even our children. There are just so many layers to this – and no easy answers.
It can be scary to speak up, especially in situations where we’re used to staying quiet. It can feel uncomfortable to set boundaries, especially when we’re worried about how others will react. But the more we practice assertiveness, the easier it becomes. And the benefits are well worth the effort.