Why the word 'no' is your No. 1 ally | Women's Agenda

Why the word ‘no’ is your No. 1 ally

How many times a day do you actually say ‘no’?

Think about it: how often do the people you manage, your boss, colleagues, friends, kids and partner actually hear you say the word?

And how often do you personally hear the word from others? Be it ‘no’ to a project you’ve suggested, ‘no’ from a client, ‘no’ from your partner when you’ve requested they pick up the kids, ‘no’ to what you really believed was a brilliant idea.

Today at the Sustaining Women in Business conference in Melbourne, New York-based Forbes journalist Jenna Goudreau said women need to “Cosy up to the word ‘no’.”

‘No’ is a great word for women to get comfortable with because we all hear it, a lot, she said. But then every now and again we’ll hear the word ‘yes’ from others, and they’re the breakthrough moments that make all the ‘nos’ worthwhile.

And the more comfortable we get hearing it from others, the more comfortable we will be in saying it aloud, and saying it internally to ourselves.

Say ‘no’ to taking on extra tasks at work when they can easily be delegated, ‘no’ to thinking the house needs to be absolutely spotless and ‘no’ to NOT requesting help from others.

Goudreau’s interviewed some of the world’s most powerful women and heard some of their best advice on how women can get ahead, while juggling competing priorities.

She urged women to decide which of the balls we’re juggling are made of glass and will shatter if dropped, and which are made of rubber. “Give the rubber balls away. They will bounce back.”

“We have to stop this never ending to-do list mentality,” she added.

We also need to find our own voice, said Goudreau. And we need to use that voice to ask for what we want at home, at work, for getting what we deserve and for defending ourselves.

Saying ‘no’ will ultimately help each of us cultivate our own success. “We must all be entrepreneurs,” said Goudreau. “Each of us are responsible for our own success … great career are no longer handed down.”

When conference MC and former TV presenter Kim Watkins asked the audience if anyone could stop “trying to be a perfectionist at work,” just a handful of women put their hand up.

We could all benefit from saying ‘no’ to others, and to our own inner control freaks that continually tell us we have to be perfect.

Could you learn to say ‘no’ more often?

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