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RheumThoughts: No is a complete sentence

Hi, I'm Dr. Rachel Tate, editor for RheumNow's Women in Rheumatology -- The XX Factor month, and here today is my RheumThought: No is a complete sentence.

For context, I am a "yes" person, and I always have been.

You pair that with a type A, people pleasing personality, and I am absolutely toast when it comes to saying "NO." My toddler, however, can say "no" without hesitation. Despite her not-yet-fully formed frontal cortex, she seems to pick appropriate "nos." So why can't I?

When we are little, we tend to exert our autonomy with "yes" and "no." But as we grow older, we may find that saying no is really uncomfortable or assign an unhealthy amount of stress/guilt. But in reality, it is crucial to say no to things that won't serve you, your family, your career or even your health.

Importantly, you are not responsible for how other's respond to your "no." Saying "no" establishes healthy boundaries, it shows self respect. It allows you to choose where you put your energy and time. It gives others clarity about your expectations. It also means that you value promises made and your intention to keep them. Also importantly, you do not need to give additional context for your "no" which can lead to "overcoming objections", which is a sales tactic used against you to change your no into a yes. 

So the next time something is asked of you, remember that saying NO is a complete sentence. 

Join The Discussion

Harry Gewanter

| Apr 26, 2023 11:22 pm

I think physicians in general have a hard time saying "No". While we can deliver bad news or discuss other negative issues at length, saying "No" is a struggle. This was clearly evident with the advent of HMO's last century when we were made the gatekeepers of care. Telling our patients "NO", that we were not ordering or performing various studies, interventions or other actions proved to be incredibly difficult for our profession. It also resulted in our difficulties in saying "No" to all the business folks who infiltrated, metastasized and now have "No" problems telling us "NO" when we want to care for our patients in the manner most appropriate for that patient.

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Rachel Tate, DO is in clinical practice in West Palm Beach, FL. Her areas of interest include SpA, musculoskeletal ultrasound, pregnancy in connective tissue disease, and patient advocacy.