What work-life balance?

Why do we have such a hard time saying no?

I was asked to help a friend write a report. I said Yes.

I was asked to attend a committee meeting. I said Yes.

I was asked to fill in at short notice for a trainer who was sick. I said yes.

I was asked stay back and complete a piece of work ahead of the due date. I said yes.

Do you have a hard time saying NO?

I have a hard time saying no.

Maybe you do, too. It’s probably a common ailment for people.

When you say yes do you really consider the request and the consequences of your response carefully?

I say yes to far, far too many requests.

The reason we say yes

Now let’s be clear, this is a common problem for those who are empathic and nurturing and don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings and I am certainly no exception.

Many people notice this problem in themselves and if you are a Yes person, you are not alone.

For me…  the worst part is right after I say YES, my next thought is How did I get myself into this mess?

Sensitive types  don’t want to disappoint

Once I’ve said yes, I hate the thought of backtracking and having to deliver the bad news.

If you tend to think about the consequences for preserving the relationship…consider this …do you consider the effect on yourself?

Saying Yes without real consideration can leave you overworked and over-committed.  Not to mention the resentment that you may feel, if the initial request was not a reasonable one.

When you are overcommitted, you are shortchanging your important relationships, and probably not able to do your best work.

I bet you can relate.

This is a common dilemma in modern work life.

Employers tout work-life balance but the scale is tipped to more work and less balance.

We want to appear helpful or can-do. But it’s a trap.

This is because we are no longer tied to the desk and the office. We can go home and log back in and do more hours at home. But who suffers when this is the norm?

Keeping up appearances

You may want to keep up appearances of being that diligent hard worker especially when there are whisperings at work about “ organizational change and restructuring”.

we want to protect our work relationships, but this is at a cost.

When change is in the wind,  you feel unease at the possibility that you next in line for chopping board.

The work does not end and the hours drift by and the time is reduced with the family and relationships that you want to attend to.

When we say yes too often, we tend to –

  1. hurt our relationships
  2. our performance suffers

So it’s impossible to keep up appearances. We let everyone down, especially ourselves.

Learning NO is an essential skill

For me, the realization that saying No to one thing is actually saying Yes to another. NO to work, yes to family is my mantra and value.

Every time you say yes at work and invest more time and energy out of hours you are taking time away from family.

Outlining my values in a priority order allowed me to see what was most important at that point in time.

A little pause and a quiet breath before responding allow me to tune inwardly and check-in with mindfulness to the response I want to give.

So now when I am asked to do just that little bit more work,

I pause…


connect with my values …

and respond.

I know saying Yes to one thing means No to another.

Every time you say no to something that is not important, you are saying yes to something that is:  it could be your work, your relationships, your business targets…

If you want help to learn about balance and meaning in your life, you may benefit from a coaching session. I’d love to help…

Iman Iskander is a Clinical Social Worker with a psychotherapy practice in Sydney. She is passionate about interactional intelligence -between people and within each person. She specialises in human interactions, mindful relationships and self-mastery. Iman holds engaging workshops for the public and in the corporate sector in Sydney CBD.

Book a free 15 minute consultation to see how we can help you.