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The Secret Cost of Saying Yes

Meghann Foye

Could the disease to please be costing you?

On a recent podcast, Oprah, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon all discussed the one thing that was holding them back. The common response? “Not saying no enough,” nodded everyone at the table.

Gwyneth Paltrow admitted this too. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg also admitted it. And Brené Brown shared that she’s also had a lifelong issue with saying no.

It has been well documented that social conditioning can make many of us hesitant to say “no”. But have you ever thought how the disease to please could be costing you over time?

How about over $1 million?

Find out how not saying “no” in these seemingly minor instances can add up over time.

The First Offer

The gender pay gap and the wage gap for people of color have both been gaining attention as more research is being done across industries and as companies pledge to self-report for greater transparency.

For example, news media source Tronc published data on Equal Pay Day showing that their white male reporters, on average, were being paid several thousands of dollars more than women and journalists of color. In finance and tech, the gaps were even more significant.

Over time, negotiating your fair market value (the average $10,086 women lose out on each year), can leave you with $1.8M more (before taxes) in your pocket. While structural bias around race and gender play a large part in the subtle negotiating process, having an awareness of the typical pay going in can help.

If that’s not possible, try seeking out a role at a company that indexes well on diversity and inclusion practices, which can have more inclusive hiring practices, pay transparency and accountability.

Extra “Office House Work”

Do you often find yourself offering to clean up after the party while your colleagues breeze out? Or, are you often asked to summarize meeting notes and findings, taking you upwards of a day, while others get the benefit of your valuable time and work?

If so, you could be in the “office housework” trap, leaving you out of the “glamour work” game—the type of work leading to value-driven wins that end in yearly raises and promotions. In a study by Harvard Business Review, women and people of color, in particular, did more office housework and had less access than their white male counterparts to glamour work like client presentations or building out teams.

To combat these biases, make a list of regularly recurring tasks your boss may not be aware of, and see if they can be shared more equitably by your colleagues, while you take on more value-driving work.

Personal Favors

On another note, are you often the friend in your group who picks up the slack, chauffeuring kids around town or babysitting in a pinch? Are you falling into a vicious cycle where you feel like you can’t say no because you’ve almost become known for these roles?

This is called “time creep”, and it pays to be more conscious of it because it can eat away at your ability to get traction on the income generating projects in your life.

How can you break the habit?

Schedule your own projects in before anyone else has time to ask you for favors. And if there’s a genuine conflict, it becomes easier to say “no!”

Monthly “Boxes”, Email Subscriptions and Other Solicitations

It used to just be magazine subscriptions and those 12-cent CD flyers in the mail. But now, it seems like we’re asked to subscribe to everything from meditation apps to weekly dinner boxes to monthly personal shopping selections—every time we open our phone.

Marketers have become very savvy about our collective attention deficit. Rather than making a one-time sale, they’ve focused their business models on encouraging subscriptions to keep you coming back automatically. In the month of April 2017, subscription company websites had an astounding 37 million visitors, a number has grown by over 800% since 2014.

Even if you hardly use these services, it’s worth it to schedule a day in your calendar each quarter when you reevaluate them. Apps like Trim automatically skim for subscriptions and can help you unsubscribe from them more easily.

Bottom line: When you add up all these unconscious “yeses”, you start seeing that the bill is pretty profound. Start saying some conscious “nos”, and you’ll start feeling better about your financial health.

Don’t say “no” to coverage!

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Meghann Foye is a NYC-based writer covering personal finance, home and lifestyle topics. Her articles have appeared in Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Parents and Refinery29.com, among others.

This material is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific advice or to serve as the basis for any financial decisions.

Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

Meghann Foye

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