Do you feel like you work harder than the rest of your colleagues at the clinic? Are you convinced that some of them take advantage of your good nature? Are you always willing to lend a hand even when you’re overworked? If this frustrates you or gets you down, maybe it’s time to learn to say no and set some boundaries at work.
Overwork is one of the main stress factors that can eventually lead to mental health problems among the vet sector. It’s possible to go full throttle for a while without major problems but you will only end up physically exhausted.
Psychological exhaustion can occur when you think you’re the clinic’s workhorse.
Some people have a natural ability to delegate some of their work and you’re there to do it, because they know you can’t or don’t know how to say no. Why does this happen to you, and why do you feel guilty if you’ve ever tried?
Why are you so afraid to say no?
According to psychology, the main reason we’re so complacent is the fear of not being accepted or loved. We need to be loved and valued like the air we breathe and this sensitivity to rejection may be related to some lack of affection during childhood.
In order to win the sympathy of others, we’re always willing to do what they ask of us, even if we don’t agree with them or we’re already overloaded at work. And to make matters worse we feel selfish if we ever refuse to take on more work.
The consequences of saying YES when you actually mean NO
When you put people pleasing before your needs, you lose sight of your own desires and run the risk of living other people’s lives instead of your own.
Not only do you become overworked, but you may feel that your colleagues or bosses are taking advantage of you. This can cause you to feel burnt out and resentful, and eventually make you leave the profession you love. Unless you decide to work alone, you will almost certainly fall into the same patterns and have the same experiences all over again.
Putting people pleasing before your needs may cause you to feel burnt out and resentful
If you learn to say no, you will set clear personal boundaries that save your time and precious mental and physical energy. You will increase your self-esteem and self-confidence and become valued by others. Although it’s likely that everyone who “took advantage” of you will try to make you feel guilty, consciously or unconsciously, because you will no longer satisfy their needs, you must stand firm if you want to break this pattern of behaviour.
So, are you ready to learn how to say NO?
How to say no in an assertive way
Learning to say no is about finding the balance between your interests and those of others. Assertiveness gives you the keys to stand up for your rights with honesty and without letting others take advantage of you. Would you like to?
Take the plunge and put these three suggestions into practice:
- Listen to what is asked of you, repeat it in your own words so that your colleague can see that you’ve understood it, and then refuse.
– “You’re asking me to clean the surgical instruments, right? I can’t, I have to prepare the operating theater for the next surgery.”
- Another way is to politely say no at the start and then give an explanation. “I’m sorry, I can’t. Thank you for considering me for this shift, but I’m already covering for so-and-so.
- At other times you can say a temporary NO if it doesn’t suit you at the moment, but you can consider it in the future. For example, “I can’t change your holiday shift this year because I’m already committed to an engagement, but next year we can work something out.”
It’s possible that the other person will insist on trying to convince you, but you must stand firm in your decision calmly, without entering into arguments, provocations or emotional manipulation.
Learn to say NO in an assertive way and discover how you regain control over your life and how others begin to value you as you deserve.
You will have more time to devote to your own work, to yourself and to the outside people or activities that are really important for your balance.
And if you feel you need help, seek counseling from a therapist. With him or her you will be able to discover and resolve the reasons why you’re having trouble setting boundaries.
And you will avoid one of the main sources of burnout in the vet field!