When is “Yes” Best? Things to Know Before You Say “No”

“No” is a strong, healthy word that many of us need to learn to use more often; and yet, sometimes we manage to use it when we shouldn’t. When new opportunities intimidate us, it’s easier to say no than it is to welcome the challenge. When we’re being pushed out of our comfort zone, it’s easier to hold tight to the familiar and reject the unknown. Part of mastering the art of saying “no” is learning when we should say it vs. when we should say “yes.” Before you rush headlong into a decision, take a moment to read these tips.

Fertilizer for Your Seeded Dreams

You’ve got plans for yourself. You’ve taken the time to identify where you’re headed in life and your career. When someone presents you with an opportunity, take the time to evaluate it in the context of your goals. This task may not mesh with your short-term objectives, but does it move you closer to your long-term targets? Will this undertaking help you develop new skills that can be applied to the roles you imagine in your future? Can this person help facilitate your professional or personal development in line with your plans? If you’ve answered in the affirmative to any of those questions, this task may be one you want to take on.

Fear is Your Motivation for No

There are valid reasons to turn down a request. Examples of valid reasons include: You don’t have the skill set required, you’re already stretched too thin, or the task will interfere with your current priorities. There are times, however, when we lean toward no out of simple fear. There’s a management position opening in your department and the VP has approached you about filling the role. Taking on direct supervisory roles is new for you, and, let’s be honest, it’s a little scary. If that’s why you’re leaning to “no,” say “yes.” Find a mentor to lend you some support as you find your footing and jump right in!

It’s Good Business

If you have the time to step in, consider saying “yes” even when the task isn’t clearly going to directly benefit you. So, maybe helping inventory the stock room this afternoon isn’t going to add a new skill set to your bailiwick. You’ve got some open space on your calendar, however, and you understand the power of being a team player. You’re not just helping someone out who may help you in the future, you’re also setting the right example for your staff and peers: we’re in this together.

It Does the Brain Good

Research shows that shaking up our routine with new experiences can slow the aging process and boost our brain power. Taking on new challenges, even temporary ones, can promote neuron and synapse growth according to Keith Rollag, author of What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations. Further, not only will the challenge give your brain a great workout, it can also make you happier; tackling new challenges can release dopamine. Need a pick-me up? Challenge yourself to say yes to something new.