I’d been meaning to write something on this topic for a while. I noticed that a few colleagues were struggling under their workload and didn’t feel like they were able to raise this problem and get a helpful response or say no to things that they were being asked to do. Partly because they were new and wanted to please. I think that saying “yes” too much creates an unsustainable misrepresentation of reality as people buckle and strain under the pressure to get all the things done on time, compromising their mental health and work-life balance.
I think that a lot of the time “yes” should be replaced with “yes, after I’ve done these things that I’ve committed to” or less frequently “yes, instead of this other thing, is that a consequence you’re happy with?”
Then I read It doesn’t have to be crazy at work and this is a summary of what they say on the subject which I thought was quite helpful in framing the decision making:
“No” is no to one thing. “Yes” is no to a thousand other things.
“No” doesn’t mean no forever
“No” leaves you available for new ideas, options and opportunities tomorrow. “Yes” limits the future.
It’s easy to say “yes” now and hard to say “no” later.