Saying “No” When “No” Is The Only Logical Answer

My biggest fear is to disappoint people–to get a B, to give up halfway through the race, and to not fill the mold someone else has laid out for me. Frankly, it’s a recipe for disaster. And yet, it is such a difficult habit to break.

I’m a people-pleaser by nature, so saying “no” does not come easily. However, I’m currently in a position where “no” is the only option.

Do you want to come with me to a concert? I know your bedtime it around 7pm lately and you wouldn’t get home until after midnight, but you’re invited.

Do you want a minuscule promotion? I’m keeping the employee who framed you for a federal crime as my right hand man, but I hope you know you’re a valued employee.

Why don’t you just let it go? The company isn’t planning to press charges and legal counsel has dismissed your power in the case, so just move on a let it go.

I am endlessly tolerant and forgiving. They didn’t mean it, they didn’t hurt anyone, and it won’t happen again. As I approach 30, I’m beginning realizing that peoples’ actions reflect their character. In the words of Maya Angelou, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

A compulsive liar will likely always be such. A bully can’t be expected to become compassionate overnight. A cheater will continue to cheat for as long as they can get away with it. And, conversely, a kind-hearted person will reveal themselves the first time you meet.

Work has been draining, and I’ve been working long hours to clean things up and facilitate my smooth transition out.

Do I feel comfortable staying with a company that allows it top-level employees to steal money from the company and its employees? Do I condone a company that chooses to keep such an employee because “his value outweighs his dysfunction”? Do I want to be a part of an organization in which hearsay–based entirely on the biased opinions of one person–is grounds for termination?

No, no, and no. That’s not what I stand for. Knowing what I now know, staying would be an act of accepting and approving such bad behavior.

Am I okay just walking away, finding a new opportunity, and starting over? It it possible for me to simply forget everything that’s happened an move on? Can I forget about all those who I’ll leave behind and subject to future abuse?

Nope. I am pissed off by what I have been through in recent weeks, but I now feel a personal responsibility to prevent it from happening to someone else. The others who fear disappointing are going to keep showing up to do their best work, only to be sabotaged by a self-serving jerk who is being permitted to continue manipulating, stealing from, and harassing his employees.

As much as I once feared the sting of a disappointed look, I now fear the self-disappointment I will surely feel if I don’t do something.

No, I will not stay at an organization that puts its most loyal employees through hell.

No, I will not just walk away, move on, and start over.

No, I will not keep my mouth shut to protect the current employees who depend on the company for their paychecks.

I don’t know how deep the rabbit hole goes and if the owner of the company and attorneys aren’t willing to find out, I’m planning to soon involve a federal agency that would be happy to investigate just what exactly is going on and who can be held liable.

While my tendency towards pleasing others has always made life difficult, I’m learning now to re-frame it. I’m not trying to please one person now, but rather to help shape an environment where the maximum number of people can feel both safe and happy. In order to achieve that, I need to say “no” to several comfortable options and “yes” to the one that could begin to make things right.

6 thoughts on “Saying “No” When “No” Is The Only Logical Answer

  1. May I be frank? I read this thrice and every time I have a hard time reading it in any other way than this: It sounds – to me – an awful lot like you are just moving the ‘pleasing habit goal posts’ from your employer to your colleagues, because you need to rationalize what you truly want but are afraid to do – namely get the hell out of there. Not just because of the money but also because you feel bad about not being able to ‘strike back’ after having almost been framed by people who do not deserve your trust.

    Okay, fine. I get that. But I do question if this is the right fight at the right time, and if you are the right person to wage it?

    I seem to recall you also suffer from a pretty serious illness, so what good will it do if you get involved in litigation, get fired because of that, and take an additional beating to your already fragile health because of both? How will you serve justice? How will you protect your colleagues? Why do you have the right to jeopardize their paychecks, by the way, if that is the choice they care most about – and are willing to give the faults of the leaders a pass? Have you talked to any of these people, gained their blessing?

    The better alternative, at least seen from my admittedly not-fully-in-the-know POV, would be to 1) get out of Dodge as soon as you are able financially and 2) start over career-wise and 3) bring along those experiences, ***so you can put them to good use for yourself and others in the future***.

    You have learned a lot about how rotten some people really can be, and trust me – I have had 15 more years to affirm that experience, which – incidentally – I first learned around your age, when the CEO of a company I worked for was facing criminal charges for embezzlement.

    You can walk away and protect yourself now (health-wise especially) and later you can protect others before and during abuse, not after the fact.

    You can put first things first – which means your health and your financial security and then go into any and all battles afterwards, when you are in better shape to fight.

    I know this is probably going to make you cringe, but I wonder – by making public your thoughts about this path you are considering – if you are really so sure about it. If you are, then fine – walk the path then, and more blessings to you. But I recognize a lot of what you are going through and I felt I had to make this comment.


    1. I think this is exactly what I needed to hear, and I now suspect that the post was, in fact, shared publicly due to some hesitation and uncertainty about the plan–to have someone tell me that perhaps I should reconsider.

      I’m not a vengeful person at all, but I feel deeply hurt and betrayed by people I trusted, and I think there is a desire for justice–to make things right for those who were hurt, and for the wrongdoers to suffer consequences for their actions and become better people. I tend to (perhaps naively) believe that all people are inherently good, and the malicious behavior against me really turned that deep-set belief on its head.

      But I am solely responsible for ensuring justice, or for leading the troops into battle against the enemy? The more I think about, the more laughable the idea sounds. I don’t have adequate evidence for a legal case, and 15% of employees have already confided that they’re compiling evidence to take to the FBI. They will choose to take action (or not), whether or not I take part. It doesn’t need to be my battle. And the more I think about it, I have very little to gain from making it my battle, and a lot to lose.

      Thankfully, I have emergency savings and could afford to be unemployed for several months, and am willing to start over career-wise (and even a bit excited by the prospect). I think removing myself from the current toxic environment and letting go of hurt and resentment is the best thing I can do for my physical, mental, and emotional health (which makes dragging out litigation seem even less appealing). I can find better ways to help other employees–offer to write letters of recommendation, suggest places to search for jobs, or teach them valuable skills that could serve them in their next job.

      I’m in the middle of orchestrating an external audit until Thanksgiving, but I think I’m going to put in my notice the minute that’s completed. There’s really nothing to be gained by staying when I have money in savings and a few potential job opportunities on the horizon. Leaving could offer me a “hard reset” before the holidays–a chance to renew my body, mind, and heart before embarking on a new adventure.

      Thank you for your honest thoughts on the matter–I think, at least right now, I need to focus on my own health and well-being before all else, and that will bring me to a place where I can best utilize my gifts and better serve others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a very, very normal reaction, to want to stay and fight and – in some imagined sense – get even. But as you say you now feel more and more … perhaps it is not the right path. You should appreciate, I hope, that a part of you already knew that and probably pushed you to air your concerns and get some feedback. Well, at least that is how I like to think about what happened.

        Speaking of the deeper, more knowing parts of ourselves … and just for good measure: I do believe, too, that all people are ‘good’ essentially. But on a soul level. And yeah, I guess you can see where this is heading – I believe in past lives, too, and that we come to re-member more and more about who we really are, as souls, while we live more limited existences here on Earth, or perhaps elsewhere.

        Sure, that’s metaphysics, and for some just fantasy, but on a practical level it allows me to have hope for humanity, even though my everyday experience tells me there is little hope. It’s *not* an excuse to do nothing, mind you – or to absolve everyone of everything they do. But it is a useful tool for me, when I need to let go of some anger (and disappointment) with people, whether they are presidents of certain unified states or someone like our daycare provider who gave us a real raw deal recently with regard to our son (she didn’t harm him, directly – she just didn’t tell us how badly he was doing there).

        So … it works for me to have this shelf in my imagination, I guess, to put my hopes for humanity. And I believe everyone needs such a shelf, so they don’t become cynics. And everyone has to choose something that works, be it a general belief in humanity or metaphysics or a cross. How else are we going to make it through life? We have to believe that people generally are, or can learn to be, ‘better’.

        But sometimes it is best for us to part from that journey of those people we want to get to learn that … and take care of our own journey.


      2. I really like your analogy placing hope for humanity on a shelf… it seems like a valuable tool for recognizing the good people, while setting aside those who might not fall cleanly into the “good” category at the current time, in their present circumstances. I imagine it removes the urge towards both blind anger and blind forgiveness, instead allowing oneself permission to step back and consider humanity as a whole and–just maybe–the possibility that the not-so-humane members of humanity may one day change for the better. You’re completely right: without hope, life is drudgery.

        Your comments really gave me some food for thought and, interestingly (though not surprisingly), that mental shift from “consequences for wrongdoing” to “letting go and moving on” led to a job offer and alleviated that strong urge to “make things right.” While others are choosing that path, I need to focus on my own journey…and that’s a battle I don’t need to a part of. Thanks again for speaking up–it really made a difference for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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