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Let’s talk about saying no

Virginia Herlihy

Closely tied to a lack of boundaries is the inability to say no to things, whether that is another demand from your manager at work or something at home. We often speak to working parents who feel so overwhelmed, that adding one more thing to their list isn’t really going to make a difference so they might as well seem willing and say yes and so the overwhelm grows. What I counsel people to remember is that for every ‘yes’ you agree to, there is a corresponding ‘no’ somewhere else. What else is being pushed aside when you always agree to pick up that extra piece of work at the end of the day?

What is a reluctance to say no really about?

A reluctance to say no comes from a couple of sources, firstly a strong in-built fear of letting people down – as characterised by working parents who don’t prioritise any time for self-care. Other people’s priorities always come first and that includes adding to your already long to-do list. Secondly, as alluded to above, we often don’t actually stop to consider what we have the capacity to do, so just say yes as an almost knee-jerk reaction. In the short video below, I talk through some tips for constructively saying no, how to buy yourself time to consider the consequences of saying yes before leaping in and agreeing to something and how to clarify what the real priority of something is.

See more resources for working parents here or watch other videos in this series about overcoming common working parent challenges.

Virginia Herlihy, CEO & Founder, How Do You Do It