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The Two Most Important Words You’ll Ever Say

Terrified of saying yes to things that scare you or no to stuff that bores you? It’s time to take control...

It’s officially impossible to function without those two teeny-tiny words, yes and no (try it for two minutes and see)—so why is it that we can’t muster up the courage to use them properly when we need to? Robin Nixon, author of Yes I Can! Using Visualization To Achieve Your Goals, explains, “It’s all because of what they imply in social situations—they’re small words with big meanings.” So that’s why it’s crucial to master how, when and why to use them properly...

Learn To Say YES

Remember the last time you deliberated over something that scared you? Chances are you thought of what could go wrong. “Fear of the unknown prevents us from saying yes,” says Robin. “It leaves us open to situations we’re not ready for. But it can stop us from experiencing all the good things that might come along from saying yes.” Here’s how to usher ‘yes’ into our lives...

1. Start Small

Maybe don’t go signing up for that bungee jumping experience just yet. “Saying yes to everything can leave you drained and confused, so be selective,” suggests Robin. “Focus on what it is you want and say yes to smaller opportunities surrounding it.”

2. Make a Snap Decision

Say yes and figure out the rest afterwards. “Half the angst in accepting a challenge or an invitation stems from deliberating over it,” says Robin. “Remove the fear and accept the offer. Don’t put pressure on yourself. The likely repercussions are rarely as bad as you think them to be.”

3. Visualise the Buzz

“Saying no to opportunities can leave us feeling guilty and low because we’ve closed a door on our ambitions,” says Robin. “Saying yes is exhilarating, even if it doesn’t turn out how we planned.” Visualise that high—nothing great comes from standing back.

4. Get Over Failure

“People feel scared they’ll fail, but it’s only after failure that you realise it’s not so bad and you survived,” says Robin. “Sometimes the best plans take several attempts, so give them a shot.”

Learn To Say NO

Ever scanned your diary and wondered why you committed to so many things you didn’t really want to? “It’s common to over commit and make future plans we wouldn’t dream of making for today because the future seems unreal,” explains Robin. “Then it comes along and we have to do it.” But accommodating other people’s needs before our own means we’re at serious risk of becoming stressed, angry, dissatisfied and depressed—so learn how to give ‘yes’ the finger...

1. Don’t Make It Personal

“Say yes to the person, but not to the task,” advises Robin. This means the person receiving the bad news won’t be hurt and it won’t make them resentful.” Use phrases that refer back to yourself, such as, ‘I’d prefer not to do X,’ or, ‘I’m uncomfortable doing Y.’ They’re harder to dispute.

2. Buy Yourself Some Time

“Being caught unaware means we’re more likely to feel indebted and pressured into agreeing,” explains Robin. “Give yourself a breather—even if it’s just 10 minutes. Saying, ‘I’m just in the middle of something, can I get back to you?’ gives you a chance to think of a good response in the meanwhile.”

3. Don’t Be Sorry

Studies show that women apologise far more often than men. “Don’t go down the apology route,” warns Robin. “Instead, use decisive phrases. Giving too many excuses about why you can’t accept weakens your position. Entering into another discussion gives the other person the chance to change your mind.”