It was 1994 and I just started my first fulltime job: an administrative position at a real estate and insurance company.
On my second day, one of the agents had a meeting with clients. He walked up to me and said: ‘Bring us some coffee, will you? Two black and one with milk and sugar.” He was about to turn around and walk away, but before he did I looked him in the eye and said: “No.”
He repeated his request, assuming I’d misunderstood him. Surely a newbie wouldn’t say ‘no’ to something he ordered her to do, would she? I shook my head and repeated my answer. “No.”
He smiled nervously, went back to his meeting and closed the door behind him.
Five minutes later he returned, a bit less cocky this time.
“How about that coffee?” he inquired. I looked him in the eye and said: “I said ‘no”.
He was shocked. This time, it was clear to him that I was not about to do what he asked. Utterly confused he walked into the kitchen and made the coffee himself.
Clearly, he did not expect this. My other colleagues had a hard time containing their laughter. They did not expect this either!
For me, saying no was the natural thing to do.
I knew making coffee for the agents was NOT part of my job. I’d specifically asked about that to get a clear picture of the work I was supposed to do. I also knew that if I said ‘yes’ to this request, I’d be the one making coffee for everyone always. When you say yes once, it’s harder to say no the next time. Better to be clear from the start!
Two weeks later, there was an office Christmas party. I hardly knew anyone, but they all knew who I was: the girl who refused to make coffee. 🙂
People often asked me if I wasn’t afraid this would cost me my job.
It was after all only my second day, and one might argue that bluntly refusing to do something is not the best way to make a good impression.
I told them I wouldn’t have cared if I’d been fired over this. That’s better than ending up as the one everyone dumped their unwanted chores on. I was NOT willing to let that happen and made that VERY clear.
And as you can guess… no one ever tried to dump something on me after that. 🙂
Thankfully I was well trained in saying ‘no’ already.
Being an extreme introvert taught me that. I had learned to say ‘no’ to parties, social ‘obligations’ and gatherings I didn’t feel like going to, because the price of saying yes (feeling completely drained afterwards and needing days to recover) was simply too high.
I know not everyone finds it easy to say no. Especially when you’re not sure how others will react and fear others might be disappointed or offended.
But you can learn to say no.
And it’s important that you do! You can only make space for the things that TRULY matter to you when you start saying NO to everything that doesn’t.
You can only create a business and life you adore when you start to say NO to a business and life you don’t love.
Feel into this:
If nothing scared you and you felt safe to say ‘no’ to everything and everyone, what would you like to say no to?
Think about it. Feel into it. Stop focusing on what you fear you might lose and start imagining what you can gain when you say no…
To saying YES to what you want by saying NO to what you don’t want,
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