I am the type of person who doesn’t have the heart to say no to someone. This got me in trouble with boys in middle school and it’s getting me in trouble at work now. Not the ‘talk with principal’ type of trouble, but more of a bottled up frustration. I tend to think of others before I think of myself. I am the intern that texts her boss before coming to work and asks if anyone wants coffee before thinking about how I’m going to get it into the office. So when it comes to working after hours, or offering solutions when I don’t have the time; I have trouble saying no.
I have said yes to things that I shouldn’t have, and complained about it to my friends and family rather than saying no. So before I write a formal apology to my loved ones, let me tell you how I learned how to say no. Wait, I never learned, I had to be told multiple times, by multiple people.
In the first month of my internship, the CEO came up to me with this exciting opportunity for a campaign that I would be working on all by myself. Of course there was a caveat, which was the deadline, nearly 5 days after I got the assignment. I waited for details to come into my inbox; nothing came until Monday, a day before it was supposed to go live. How was I supposed to say no to this opportunity, even if it meant working two 14-hour days until it launched?
From this moment on, I became the CEO’s pet, or so my supervisor says, and she chose to use me over her freelance designer for minor tweaks to other campaigns. I was called and emailed on weeknights with people expecting deliverables and given edits over the weekend due on Sunday. Each time I was told it would only take a few minutes, but I should have known better. The CEO literally said to me one day, “You know you can say no to me, right?” before I finally got it.
For people with my personality, temperament and upbringing, saying no in the workplace is a problem. We can easily be taken advantage of and it is out fault at the end of the day. If you are like this, I highly encourage you to read Alexandra Levit’s book They Don’t Teach Corporate In College or Huffington Post’s rendition on the subject. I can’t guarantee I’ll say no the next time I’m asked to work overtime, but at least I’ll think about it and that’s a start.