Learn to Say No
Leaders know when and how to say NO.
Opening Case Study :
SavitriBaiPhule –AStrong Female Leader
Savitribai was born on January 3, 1831, in Naigaon (presently in Satara district) in British India in a farming family to KhandojiNeveshePatil and Lakshmi as their eldest daughter. Girls in those days were married off early, so following the prevalent customs, the nine-year-old Savitribai was wedded to 12 years old JyotiraoPhule in 1840. Jyotirao went on to become a thinker, writer, social activist and anti-caste social reformer. He is counted among the leading ﬁgures of Maharashtra’s social reform movement. Savitribai’s education started after her marriage. It was her husband who taught her to read and write after he saw her eagerness to learn and educate herself. She cleared third- and fourth-year examination from a normal school and became passionate about teaching. She took training at MsFarar’s Institution in Ahmednagar. Jyotirao stood ﬁrmly by the side of Savitribai in all her social endeavors.
SavitribaiJyotiraoPhule was a prominent Indian social reformer, educationist and poet who played an instrumental role in women education and empowerment during the nineteenth century. Counted among few literate women of those times, Savitribai is credited for founding the ﬁrst girl’s school in Pune in Bhide Wada with her husband JyotiraoPhule. She took great effort towards educating and emancipating child widows, campaigned against child marriage and sati pratha, and advocated for widow remarriage. A leading ﬁgure of Maharashtra’s social reform movement, she is considered an icon of Dalit Mang caste along with likes of B. R. Ambedkar and AnnabhauSathe. She campaigned against untouchability and worked actively in abolishing caste and gender-based discrimination.
She worked in tandem with her husband in the latter’s efforts in eradicating the custom of untouchability and the caste system, garnering equal rights for people of lower castes, and reform of the Hindu family life. The couple opened a well in their house for the untouchables during an era when the shadow of an untouchable was regarded as impure and people were reluctant to even offer water to the thirsty untouchables.
In 1863, Jyotirao and Savitribai also started a care center called ‘BalhatyaPratibandhakGriha,’ possibly the ﬁrst ever infanticide prohibition home founded in India. It was set up so that pregnant Brahmin widows and rape victims can deliver their children in a safe and secure place thus preventing the killing of widows as well as reducing the rate of infanticide. In 1874, Jyotirao and Savitribai, who were otherwise issueless, went on to adopt a child from a Brahmin widow called Kashibai thus sending a strong message to the progressive people of the society. The adopted son, Yashavantrao, grew up to become a doctor.
The relentless efforts of Savitribai in curbing the age-old evils of society and the rich legacy of good reforms left behind by her continues to inspire generations. Her reformative works have been recognized over the years. A memorial was created in her honor by the Pune City Corporation in 1983. India Post released a stamp in her honor on March 10, 1998. The University of Pune was renamed after her in 2015 as SavitribaiPhule Pune University. Search engine Google commemorated her 186th birth anniversary on January 3, 2017, with a Google doodle.
Do you wish you could put your foot down sometimes and say no? Many of us feel compelled to agree to every request, and would rather juggle a million jobs than refuse to help, even if we are left with no time for ourselves. But learning to say no, as a leader can earn you respect from yourself as well those around you.
So why do we continue to say yes? It could be that we believe that saying no is uncaring, even selﬁsh, and we may have a fear of letting other people down. On top of this may be a fear of being disliked, criticized, or risking a friendship.
Interestingly, the ability to say no is closely linked to self- conﬁdence. People with low self-conﬁdence and self-esteem often feel nervous about antagonizing others and tend to rate others’ needs more highly than their own.
Being unable to say no can make you exhausted, stressed and irritable. It could be undermining any efforts you make to improve your quality of life if you spend hours worrying over how to get out of an already-promised commitment. Don’t wait until your energy runs out before you take a much-needed step back to assess the situation.
Knowing when to say “no” takes practice. Learning this skill can help keep you safe and allow you to build and maintain strong and healthy relationships. It can also help you learn to identify and take the best opportunities that come your way, and to ignore those that are a waste of your time and talents. In order to know when to say “no,” it is important to learn more about your personal limits as well as to understand how to identify opportunities that are too good to be true.
As a leader it requires time, but you can learn to hone your skills so that you are better able to recognize the situations where you can and should say no. Practice saying no clearly so that the person you are speaking to isn’t confused and thinks you will say yes later. Give a brief but clear reason for saying no, and be honest rather than using an excuse.
Decide whether you have the skills and abilities needed to say yes. If someone asks you to take on a task or a project you aren’t ready for, then you might not be able to do a good job. You might ﬁnd it very stressful to complete the task or project, and the person who asked you might not be happy with the result.
Top 5 Tips for Saying No
- Keep your response simple. If you want to say no, be ﬁrm and direct. Use phrases such as “Thanks for coming to me but I’m afraid it’s not convenient right now” or “I’m sorry but I can’t help this evening.” Try to be strong in your body language and don’t over-apologize. Remember, you’re not asking permission to say no.
- Buy yourself some time. Interrupt the ‘yes’ cycle, using phrases like “I’ll get back to you,” then consider your options. Having thought it through at your leisure, you’ll be able to say no with greater conﬁdence.
- Consider a compromise. Only do so if you want to agree with the request, but have limited time or ability to do so. Suggest ways forward to suit both of you. Avoid compromising if you really want or need to say no.
- Separate refusal from rejection. Remember you’re turning down a request, not a person. People usually will understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask the favor.
- Be true to yourself. Be clear and honest with yourself about what you truly want. Get to know yourself better and examine what you really want from life.
If saying yes means you have to lose sleep working late, or sacriﬁce time with your kids or your partner, or shufﬂe things around in your already crazy schedule – don’t do it. It’s just not worth it. Be honest with them, be honest with yourself, and just say no.