The right to say no

“To have a good job, you need to be willing to sacrifice”, at least that’s what I have always learned. “So do what is asked of you. Show your effort and commitment.” Effort and commitment are things that an employer expects from you. It’s also what I expect from my team. As an employer it’s not easy to deal with an employee who turns down a collective activity, you have carefully chosen. You chose the trainer, the location and paid for the catering,… Learning together, is there anything better? And who knows, we might even get to know each other better?

But not everybody will consider this to be a good time. And you don’t have to like it. A little while ago we organized a teambuilding for a large group of employees, those employees were really stuck in resistance. I can get it, for the most part I leave them be. Because even if we would like everybody to participate, that makes my job as a trainer and facilitator more fun, not everybody asked for this. Not everybody is jumping at the thought of being analyzed and known. There used to be a group, not mine, where the trainer was working an such a ‘deep’ level that participants started crying. I, myself, remember some off-site meetings with previous teams where I only wanted 1 thing, that we would stop poking my soul and I would finally be allowed to go outside to take a walk.

You have the right to say no
Whether it is a trainer who is poking to hard, a coach you didn’t ask for, a boss or colleague who resents you for ‘being hard to read’, you have a right to privacy and to keep your feelings, fears and deepest thoughts for yourself. Even if your boss is paying for it.

Saying ‘no’ starts with feeling ‘no’
‘No’ is only clear for others when it is clear for ourselves. Often I see confusion. The gut knows and the head overrules: “I’m not allowed to say no, am I? Don’t I have to participate? Will I lose my job if I refuse to participate?”. Accept your gutfeeling, it never lies. Decide and define what you want and what you don’t want. Where you might want to go and where you definitely don’t want to go. In the end it is up to you to decide what you share and what you keep to yourself.

And then, you have to say it out loud, of course
I often get the question how to serve that ‘no’. How to be clear and assertive without burning bridges? My simple advice, easy, just say it. The more pure and authentic, the more your environment will see that your ‘no’ is correct and sincere. Others might not agree with it, but they will at least see that you’re serious. For example that you’re willing to participate in a session, but don’t want to talk about yourself or your sensitive spots. And you can agree to disagree, if you want to. A little bit of background and framing can sometimes help to explain your reasons why. And then, talk about what you do want.

Would you like to be better at saying ‘no’, so you can also go for ‘yes’?
Contact us for a free discovery conversation! Our coaches will help you on your way.
If you master Dutch well enough, you can also participate in our assertiveness workshop on Nov24.  

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