Why Being A “Yes” Man Could Be Hurting Your Career

Posted June 17, 2019, by Elesha

Many of us have a hard time saying “no” to our colleagues. We don’t want to let anyone down so we end up agreeing to WAY too many things because we want to be liked or avoid shaking up professional relationships. The bad news is, always saying “yes” at work could seriously be hurting your career – here’s why. 

Stress Levels Skyrocket

Trying to get everything done and make everyone happy is literally impossible and saying “yes” at work (to everything!) is a recipe for stress, anxiety, and resentment.

Feeling stressed about work can fill you with a sense of dread every morning and its impact on your wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated. Stress eats away at health and vitality and can even lead to depression.

When you’ve got big career aspirations you want to be filled with energy and focus to move towards your goals. Stressed out, emotional people are not likely to stay on track for the long run to achieve their professional targets.

If you’re the go-to person for everyone, including your boss, you’re putting everyone else’s needs before your own. Here are a few telltale signs you’re trying to juggle too many priorities and commitments –

  • Angry, irritable, emotional mood swings
  • Feeling tired every day
  • Indifference towards work
  • Taking more and more time off
  • Trouble concentrating

The thought of disappointing others by saying “no” can be hard but is the price your mental and physical health will pay worth really worth it?

Your Productivity And Sense Of Purpose Plummets 

“Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time.” Tim Hardford, Economist and Journalist. 

Ever feel like you’ve been busy all day but by 5pm (or 8pm) your to-do list is just as long as when you started? You’ve got no idea what exactly you accomplished.

Your productivity will take a serious nosedive when you spread yourself too thin saying “yes” at work without considering your own priorities. Worse still, as productivity slows so does your sense of purpose so your morale takes a real hit too.

It’s so easy to reply ‘Sure, no problem’ to this, that and the other requests from colleagues in the moment. A few days later though, you’re overwhelmed by obligations. This kind of overload anxiety can quickly lead to procrastination – keeping you locked in the cycle of low productivity and eating away at your sense of purpose.

If you only had 2 hours to work on something today, what would it be? Asking this question helps you focus on the true priorities on your list. Spend time at the start of each week and new day figuring out what really needs to get done; these priorities will act as a guide to saying “yes” at work, “no” or “not right now”. 

Your Colleagues Will Take Advantage Of You

It can be easy to become a doormat for your workmates. Saying “yes” at work might mean you’ve ended up as the organiser of office birthday cakes and cards because no-one else wanted to do it. Or you’re helping out Catherine AGAIN because she’s behind AGAIN with the monthly reporting. Sound familiar?

If you let them, workmates will take advantage of your “yes” attitude and you’ll find yourself piled high with random duties or constantly helping disorganised colleagues cover their own incompetence.

It’s true you can’t say “no” to everything you don’t want to do but you should get clear on what requests are above and beyond your call of duty.

If you’ve got your eye on a promotion, you need to show your boss you can put boundaries in place. If you’re overloaded and overwhelmed with work it could lead you to be overlooked for the next step.

You Lose Sight Of Your Career Goals

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” Steve Jobs

Does your current role have you pulled in so many different directions that you’ve lost sight of your big career goals?

Saying “yes” to too many things will leave you drowning in daily details and the important steps you need to take to get ahead get pushed further from your mind.

There will always be “little things” to get done while you work your way towards your bigger career goal but saying “yes” at work and overcommitting on the ‘little things’ will completely derail your big career goals. You’re saying “yes” to other people’s priorities and not to your own.

Is your boss aware of your career goals? If not, tell them what you’re aiming to achieve. Knowing your aspirations can help your boss give more consideration to the types of tasks they assign you. It’s also a great idea to write out your goals and read them daily to keep them at the forefront of your mind.

Have we convinced you that saying “yes” at work can actually hurt your career? If you’re ready to start saying “no” more often, we’ve got some tips to get you started here and here. Good luck, you can do it!


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