You are always saying no to something

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I remember someone giving me a bit of advice once to the effect that for every request you say yes to, you should say no to an equivalent request.  It’s good advice but I would push it further.  The reality that that every time you say yes to something or someone, you are at the very same time saying no to someone or something else.

There are two reasons for this. The first is to do with capacity.  You and I are finite human beings, we have finite capacity and energy. This means that there reaches a point where we cannot take any more on. If I say yes to two many things today, then I’m simply saying no to others in the future. Indeed, I may find that if I take too much on that I simply cannot keep on top of the actual task I’ve taken on. So, the result is that I have to postpone or cancel later.  Worst still, I may simply be overwhelmed to the point where I’m unable to update those I said yes to leaving them frustrated and in the dark.

The second reason is to do with relationship.  One way that we say yes is  by agreeing to offer help to others. Another way is by supporting and agreeing with them.  I choose to agree with someone because I want to be on friendly terms with them and don’t want to upset or offend them. However, the reality is that by agreeing with person x I may find myself disagreeing with person y. I may find that I’m unable to avoid offending someone eventually.  I can always attempt to find a middle position but I may well offend everyone.

So, the difference is not between attempting to say “yes” to everyone rather than “yes” to some and “no” to others. Rather, the difference is between making overt and conscious decisions about who I will say “yes” to and who I will say “no” to.

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