Q: I always find it difficult to refuse my staff when they ask me for “favours”, such as chairing their meetings, speaking to difficult customers, or writing reports for them. They have gotten quite used to taking advantage of my kindness as they know I seldom refuse them. I am weak in saying “no” because of the environment I grew up in since young where I was taught to “live and let live” as a way to bring harmony and happiness to the world. However, I am beginning to feel the strain of doing this so often for people as I realise I am not helping them to grow as fast as they should. It is now time for me to shed my nice-guy image for a tougher one so that they become independent and self-reliant. But I know this change is not easy. How can you help me?

A: If there is one key area to focus on, it is on improving your tolerance in uncomfortable situations, such as dirtying your hands in managing the undesired behaviours of people where you dare to say “no” or to tell them off if need be. Toughening yourself up will make you less affected emotionally and mentally when people want to take advantage of you. Tell yourself it is okay to say “no” sometimes in certain situations where being “cruel is being kind”, and vice versa.

Find ways to increase your mindfulness to stay on course to say “no” instead of “yes”. Should you fail to, it is all right but ask yourself what you learned from here so that you can do better next time. Also, ask yourself what made it so difficult and then search deep in yourself to identify the triggers that spark this reaction. Doing this exercise repeatedly will increase your mindfulness to do the right thing more often.


•         How successful is your current method in helping people?

•         What is this success below your expectations?

•         What needs to change now?

•         What exactly will you do from now on?

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