Well, we’ve explored some of the reasons why you need to get comfortable saying “No”:
Your personal and professional lives are a complex network of gray areas where absolutes play second fiddle to nuance and wisdom en route to getting where you want to go.
A boxing analogy:
If a well-timed “no” is the shoulder roll and parry preventing your opponent’s haymaker from landing flush, a reasoned “Yes” is the counter-punch that tilts the odds in your favor.
Here are four situations when you should consider saying “Yes” if you’re on the fence.
1) When you’re trying to spark a romantic flame.
Sitting through nine innings of baseball may not be your thing, but if you’re invited to tag along with a group that includes someone you’ve got your eye on, accept the invite to the game.
Don’t cancel any important plans to do so, but get in the habit of capitalizing on chances to set yourself up for the future.
Just showing face can be enough to get the ball rolling.
Mere Exposure Effect:
Our attraction to a particular person or item tends to increase every time we encounter it.
Good Friends, Good Times, Good Business: The Propinquity Effect:
2) To form new career and business partnerships.
Much of the same logic explored in scenario #1 applies here.
In addition, by placing yourself front-and-center with the right people, you get a chance to show that you’re likeable, reasonable, and can provide some sort of value to make their lives easier.
You’re no longer just an anonymous face spamming their inbox.
Especially in the COVID era, where more and more meetings are happening online, the right networking opportunity no longer requires a cross-country flight. A little forethought and the willingness to spend an hour or two in a Zoom conference focusing on an area you’re looking to make waves in can do the trick.
Principle of Reciprocity:
When we provide value to others, they feel compelled to provide some sort of value in return.
3) To experience something you might otherwise never be exposed to.
“Timidity” is to depression as “baking soda” is to cookies; just a little bit of ill-placed fear is enough to encourage the growth of thoughts and behaviors that move you away from where you want to go.
Sometimes, you need to say “Yes” to avoid long-term damage to your future self. Challenging yourself to push through events that inspire irrational fear is like warming up your muscles before you exercise or a play a sport—it prepares you for the activity gives your mind an idea of what to expect so you know what’s to come.
And of course, knowing is half the battle.
When you expose yourself to environments where you’re not completely comfortable, you learn about the full range of possible outcomes, what you like—what you don’t—and scenarios you’re more likely to say “yes” or “no” to in the future.
You learn that you’re capable of tolerating and achieving more than you think.
Myself, I am terrified of heights. Always been so.
Last time I went on a roller coaster was over twenty years ago (Six Flags), and I don’t plan on going on one any time soon.
(Unless I’m on a game show or something.)
With many class reunions right around the corner, I’m reminded of a time where I decided to put fear aside and go for something that would build up my resolve for the future.
McGraw Tower, perhaps the most recognizable building at my alma mater, was a fitting conquest.
During my final week on campus, I decided to trek to the top of the tower. It was a terrifying ordeal, but I stayed cool by reminding myself that the steps and boundaries were well-constructed and that all the strength and movement training I do to stay in shape should provide me with enough agility and balance to keep me from tumbling over the railings.
After what seemed like an eternity, I got to the top and peered over the sides of the building. Beaming with pride and accomplishment, I patted myself on the back for pushing through what was, at times, sweat-inducing panic.
I took some time to take in the sights, appreciating the late-May Ithaca weather and the architecture that dots North Campus, Libe Slope, Ho Plaza, and parts of West and Central Campus.
I took a few photos to commemorate the achievement as well, but those photos are missing in action.
This will have to do:
Along with Paintball, it’s one of the memories of Senior Week that I’ll never forget.
Learning social skills and overcoming shyness is something that’s developed over time. Be Proactive. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and force yourself to interact with others in new settings. Little by little you can escalate your level of engagement. Start by looking strangers in the eye whenever you walk past them.
It will feel uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it.
How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety:
4) To support a cause bigger than yourself.
History is replete with heroes who embraced individual pain in order to contribute to a mission bigger than themselves. You know the stories of Civil Rights figures and inventors looking to better the human condition.
But it doesn’t even have to be that grand. Not every decision needs to have the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
Saying “Yes” to a cause bigger than yourself could be as simple as deciding to let your cousin who just got laid off decide the restaurant for family dinner (even though you hate sushi) or volunteering to chaperone your daughter’s field trip to a tech expo.
Whether it’s providing an opportunity for someone else to re-capture some control after a tough experience or see what an actual role model looks like, your sacrifice creates something special.
A trendy hashtag or a few “likes” on social media might make people feel good and demonstrate that a message is being heard, but it doesn’t mean it has created change.
Activism that resides purely in the social media space is the worst kind of low-hanging fruit; take a bite and it falls apart in your hand.
More on the anatomy of social movements that go nowhere: