Today I want to talk to you about the power of one little word to help you overcome burnout. And that little word is…
No. It’s amazing how difficult it is for us to say “no.” I know that when I was a little girl, “no” was equivalent to a four-letter word in my family because, let’s face it, if mommy and daddy told me to do something, I was not really permitted to say “no” to their requests!
Now that might work when you’re a child because the parents care for you and saying no to certain things is in your best interest.
But when you become an adult, you have to learn how to say no to certain things that can belittle you, demean you, and can lead you to burnout.
So I’m going to mention four of them in this little video. Two of them are saying no to things outside of you and two of them are saying no to certain personal habits. Let’s start with the outside first.
Say “No” to Two Work-Related Stressors
The first thing you need to say “no” to especially at work (because I tend to focus on workplace burnout) is you have to say “no” to unreasonable demands. Now I know that some of you are like, “Yeah, right, I’m going to tell my boss that I can’t meet whatever he’s demanding of me.”
Well, there are certain demands that have to be met. But when everything is a high priority, then nothing is a priority. And when nothing is a priority, nothing gets accomplished! Everything gets accomplished maybe halfway (if you’re lucky).
So if you’re going to say no to unreasonable requests by your boss, you need to learn how to negotiate to develop a win-win situation. If, for example, your boss demands you to take the weekend to finish a project for Monday morning but you’ve been working on other projects that have the same deadline, negotiate and see if someone else can also work on it through delegation. Or work with your boss to determine what the real priority of these items is.
It sounds kind of simple – it sounds kind of scary at first. But believe me, it really does work and it creates a win-win situation for you, your boss, the company, and any potential customers who are affected by it.
The second thing is we’ve all had bosses who can be bullies. And one thing about bullies is they tend to focus on people who don’t defend themselves. So the second thing you need to say “no” to is to disrespectful treatment.
One of the things that I learned (and I think it was Dr. Phil MacGraw who may have mentioned this) is that people treat you the way you teach them to treat you. If your boss is treating you disrespectfully or is demeaning or treating you in an unkind way, it is your responsibility to say no to that treatment.
Now I’m not saying that you’re going to challenge them to a duel at sunset! What I am saying is you need to basically tell them this is not the best way for them to manage or lead you and that you can get better performance if they approach you differently.
Again, it’s scary – but I’ve seen it work. And remember: people treat you the way you have taught them that it is acceptable to treat you.
Say “No” to Two Personal Beliefs
Now the next two things that I want to talk about are saying “no” to things within yourself.
The first thing that you need to say “no” to are illusions of perfection. If you’re an over-achiever, that is a big challenge for you! Over-achievers do tend to be perfectionists. However, instead of over achievement, instead say “yes” to high performance.
Over-achievement is usually trying to get perfection and perfection is elusive, if not an illusion – because my definition of perfection may not be your definition of perfection! So say “no” to the perfectionism and instead focus on high performance and high quality. It doesn’t have to be perfect! It needs to be good enough to meet the standards that were assigned to you.
And then the final thing that I want you to say “no” to is negating yourself. So make saying “no” to negating taking care of yourself. (I know that’s kind of a double negative and it might be a little confusing.)
So, let me put it another way. Start saying “yes” to taking care of yourself. If you’re not healthy, if you’re not in a good place mentally or emotionally, you’re not going to be able to do good work and you’re not going to be any fun to be with.
And frankly, you’re not going to be happy and you’re probably going to be burned out. You can make time to take care of yourself. They can be little things.
I talked to a friend of mine who said, “Oh, I want to meditate, I want to meditate. I just don’t have time!” Well, I’m going to tell you a funny story about my father. He was not a meditator, but he did say prayers every morning and his schedule was very heavy. So he did it in the morning when he was doing his private things, when he was washing or showering or, yes, even going to the bathroom! But the bottom line is that he made the time to do it because it was important to him.
So you can make the time to do it for yourself, too. But what that is going to require is for you to say that you are a priority in your life. If you’re trying to take care of everyone else, you’re not going to have the energy to take care of yourself. But here’s the bottom line: if you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone else.
Any flight attendant will tell you, “In the event of an emergency, when the oxygen mask comes down and you’re traveling with a child, put the mask on yourself first so then you can put the mask on the child and take care of the child.”
So, four things to say no to:
- Say no to unreasonable requests
- Say no to disrespectful treatment
- Say no to illusions of perfection
- Say no to negating care of yourself
If you do those four things, it’s going to help considerably by managing the internal and external factors that can contribute to a full-blown burnout. Try it and see – let me know what happens!
© 2021 G. A. Puleo. Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on transforming the world of work by eradicating burnout. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.