Discussion: The Truth About Saying NO at Work

EDITOR’s NOTE:  Every Thursday, we’ll post a different topic meant to provoke discussion and debate.  We encourage everyone to weigh in (see comment form below), and vote in our poll.  If you have topic ideas, please email them to girlsonthegrid AT gmail DOT com.

 

A fellow GOTG shared the following article that we can’t help sharing.  We first shared with our writers and editors and got VERY mixed reviews.  Some totally related and agreed, others were pretty disgusted.  What do you think?  Read the article (link below), vote in our poll and share your thoughts in our comments section.
Oprah.com: The Truth About Saying NO at Work
http://www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/200803_omag_saying_no
Saying yes to every tough assignment, 18-hour day, and cross-country move may get you swift promotions and the big bucks. But what if you also want a life? Can you stand up and say no without hurting your career?

A fellow GOTG shared the following article that we can’t help sharing.  We first shared with our writers and editors and got VERY mixed reviews.  Some totally related and agreed, others were pretty disgusted.  What do you think?  Please read the article (link below), vote in our poll and share your thoughts in our comments section.

Oprah.com: The Truth About Saying NO at Work
http://www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/200803_omag_saying_no
Saying yes to every tough assignment, 18-hour day, and cross-country move may get you swift promotions and the big bucks. But what if you also want a life? Can you stand up and say no without hurting your career?

[twtpoll id=”4iwvdp”]

(58% said yes, 42% said no).

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10 Comments

  1. Devon says

    This article really hit home for me, because I have played both roles, the one who always said yes, and the one who tried to find more balance in my life. I wasn’t really successful at either one, and it was just as challenging to try and say no at times as it was to sacrifice and say yes. For me, when I was always saying yes, I was frustrated that I had no social life. And, when I started to try and work my job and have a life, I always felt I was never doing a great enough job at work.
    I think that in some industries it is totally ok to say no to certain things at work and still be successful professionally–as long as one is saying no to the right questions. I also think that if I, someday, find a job that I am absolutely passionate about, I will have no problem logging longer days, working weekends, and doing everything else that goes into being the yes person.

  2. Becky says

    I agree a lot with Devon. I do think that its tough to say no because of the missed opportunities yet it comes at a cost. I definitely haven’t figured out how to balance life with work yet but its great to know others have the same struggle.

  3. Lisa says

    I was one of those GOTG writers who agreed and could relate. Just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I’ve found there’s no such thing as work-life balance. When I say yes at work, something in my personal life always has got to give. For me it’s usually the small things – canceling lunch with a friend, missing a spin class or not making a home-cooked meal. I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t missed any major events like my dearest friends’ weddings and baby showers as a result of my career choices, and mostly that is because I’ve had the good fortune of being surrounded by great colleagues and friends who have picked up the slack for me during those times. And in return, I have done the same for them. The one thing this article fails to mention is the camaraderie and support system we can and should create with other women, in both our professional and personal lives, so we can say either yes or no from time to time and live with those decisions.

  4. Amy says

    I agree with Becky and Devon! I don’t have it all figured out, but I think you have to pick your battles. There are things worth saying, “no” for and things that are just not worth it.

    I think knowing the order of your priorities is really important and makes the choices easier.

    I also think it’s a life-long battle.

  5. Ashley Robinson says

    I looked at this article and understood this is reality, but I don’t understand why we have to sit and take it. There is this new wave of feminism that demands that to be a woman in 2009 we have to live at 200%, all gears, all going … we have to be successful career women AND have a balanced life. We have to be on the top of the world, on top of it all. We have to conquer men, work, the house, our weight, our own sense of harmony, and run marathons? Uh, ya, right.

    I think to kid ourselves that we can do all this – and that if we don’t, we fail – is a waste of time, and will ultimately set us up for disappointment. It seemed to me that the only woman who actually told the truth said she had given up too much to let her career go. She had said NO at work, and that was to her family.

    And honestly, is it worth it? Why have kids if you know they will never be your priority? Why even plan Christmas parties if you don’t think you can attend them? We can be successful in both worlds, but something always has to go. At some point you do have to say NO.

    I would love to be successful at both, and I think our culture helps us there. But I would like to be able to say no at some point in my life and know that it’s going to be ok.

  6. Carmen says

    Oh–good question! Great article too. I find that it’s especially hard to say “no” as a single woman without kids… it’s almost like everyone else is saying “Well, what ELSE are you going to do?” Being able to say NO depends on who you want to be and how you want your life defined. As for me, I don’t want my life defined by my career. That makes it easier to say no. But it also means that I have to deal with the consequences.
    I am loving the blog!!

  7. Emily says

    I totally agree with this article. I am finding myself like the anesthesiologist at this point in my life. I am trying to front stack the “yes” so when it is time to have kids, or do other things, I can say “no” and get away with it. I guess I’m building my credibility at this point in my life so I can be relied on later (even if I am physically absent).

    I disagree with the new wave of feminism concept though. I don’t feel as though there are great expectations on me. I honestly do want to have a great career and marriage. (Both of which I am very passionate about.) I love going to the gym and exercising, so when I have time to do that, that is just icing on the cake.

    Women have the choice to stay at work or at home, or do both. Or try to balance them how they wish. As long as people are honest and upfront with colleagues about their plans, it usually works out in my experience. I am thankful though for the early pioneers of the feminist movement that they did the work they did so I can have the options I have now.

  8. Caroline Silveira says

    As I read the article, I just keep thinking one thing – it depends on what kind of life you want! And then there it finally was – the writer’s epiphany – page 3, 4th paragraph. “The question, I realized, is not whether you always have to say yes or when you can start saying no, but how you want to live your life.”

    And another thing – all these women are married and have kids. (Carmen – I agree with you! 100%)Something, or someone, the author did not explore are women who tend to say yes at work their entire young lives and therefore never even get to the point in a personal relationship to say the big yes, “I do.” They lament that saying yes may be negatively affecting their spouse, but they don’t acknowledge that at least that have that support and they have that person to help them out. I realize there’s a lot more to handle when there are kids, but single people have to take care of it all, themselves, without that one close, personal relationship. And maybe always saying yes for those people is part of what prevents them from finding that most important relationship, or gives them their excuse for not having it. But, it’s detrimental to one’s full potential for happiness.

    I’m not the kind of very successful, high-powered woman that this article contemplates – in fact, it’s a little ridiculous that each of the women the writer considered are at a level very few can achieve. What about the rest of us? Anyway, I have never wanted career to prevent a well-balanced life.

    It is such a struggle, even for a single person. Maybe it’s partly why we’re single!

  9. Robin says

    “No” is an extraordinarily powerful word. It’s one that most women (including myself) need to get a little more comfortable using. And at the end of the day, an honest “no” when it comes to workload probably garners more respect than a half-hearted “yes, but…”

  10. Alissa says

    The word NO……. I have stuggled with this word for YEARS. However, the fact remains that we all have choices in our lives. It is important to create priorties and stick to them. Those are what define you. When you have those in order it is easier to create the work life balance you want and deserve. Remember you are making choices NOT sacrifices. Choose the life you want to live, then live it!

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