Learning to say no
For a two-letter word, â€śnoâ€ť holds a great deal of impact. It has the potential to hurt feelings, cause disputes and damage relationships. Because of the seemingly curt nature of the word itself, people often find it difficult to refuse othersâ€™ favors, even if it means adding a burden to their own agendas.
As a result, we tend to succumb to these requests, no matter how undesirable, by assisting and answering others to the best of our abilities. However, it becomes a problem when someoneâ€™s inability to reject an offer has the potential to overburden or cause harm upon themselves.
The opportunity to say â€śnoâ€ť comes up quite often when someone requests for you to do something for them, when youâ€™re asked to join others in an activity or when others ask you for your honest opinion â€” the list goes on. It becomes easy to see why; with so many different requests from different people, refusing others or bluntly saying â€śnoâ€ť to friends may reflect badly upon your own attitude. For example, if one of your close friends asks to copy your homework, saying â€śyesâ€ť could further establish a sense of companionship and trust between the two of you, while saying â€śnoâ€ť would likely cause him or her to see you as uptight or selfish, despite the fact that it is the moral thing to do. In cases like these, the importance of oneâ€™s status and relationships seems to overshadow the importance of remaining moral and honest.
At a young age, we were taught to say â€śnoâ€ť to things like bullying, cheating, drugs and peer pressure. For years, the word â€śnoâ€ť has been integrated into important lessons about having ethical behavior by teachers, parents and adults â€” so why has refusal become such a difficult response? Like many of the other social problems we see in society today, the difficulty in saying â€śnoâ€ť partially stems from the fear and pressure of getting rejected or humiliated.
Despite the need to stand up for yourself, rejecting work or help should not be an excuse for laziness and ungraciousness. While there is a problem with people not being able to say â€śnoâ€ť to requests that are immoral or canâ€™t be handled, there are others who have an issue with refusing assignments or requests for assistance simply because they donâ€™t want to exert the effort to help. Just as taking upon multiple tasks when youâ€™re overburdened is harmful to yourself, taking advantage of saying â€śnoâ€ť simply out of laziness is also detrimental to your reputation and appearance as a individual in the classroom or workforce. Helping each other is always a good way to practice camaraderie, unless it means that one side is taking advantage of the assistance provided by another person.
Accepting additional tasks and requests require a certain amount of altruism and compassion, which is why we, more often than not, are encouraged to help others. However, when it comes to prioritizing your own assignments over others, it is important to have the willpower to say â€śno.â€ť
By Jessica Huang, Production lead
Editorial cartoon by Natalie Jiang