How to say NO

>> Thursday, April 8, 2010

Okay.

Are you desperately afraid of saying, "NO" to requests? Even if you know you should? Even if you really really want to?

Yet, when someone calls to ask you to watchtheirkids/cookameal/doacraftproject/pickuprandomthingatthestore, do you find yourself saying, "Sure! It's NO problem. No really. It's totally fine!" when you really really shouldn't?

Me too.

I have issues.

See, I kind of believe that if I say "NO!" when I need to, I'll be hurting someone's feelings. I'll be making myself look weak, or unfriendly or uncharitable. I believe that SHOULD be able to raise my own kids, run my own business, support my husband 100%, keep my house beautifully spotless, keep the dog well-groomed, keep MYSELF well-groomed, read everyone's blogs and leave fantastic, witty comments, keep up on the news, support my congressman/woman, do my church duties, exercise, eat right, make sure my children have proper, educational activities...

and be able to help anyone/everyone who asks.

It seriously depresses me to even think that the above list isn't even an exaggeration.

So, when people ask MORE of me, I try so so hard to say, with as much enthusiasm I can muster, "YES! Of course!"

Some things aren't hard to do at all, taking a friend's kids for a couple of hours really doesn't phase me. Some things just sort of fit right in and don't bug me.

But sometimes, I need to say "No, I'm sorry, I can't."

And because of that, I've been thinking of the best way to do this. (YES! There is a "wrong" way to say "NO!" to people.)

So without further ado:

The Wrong Way to Say "NO!"
1. Lie
2. Be rude, "Why would you even ask me that? You KNOW I'm so swamped!"
3. Delay the inevitable. "Call me in a day and I'll let you know" when you KNOW you are going to refuse.
4. Ignore the request, pretending it will go away.
5. Say "yes" and then change your mind (if you were always intending to say "No!")

The RIGHT Way to Say "NO!"
1. Be honest. "I wish I could, but I am honestly too swamped right now!"
2. Be polite, "Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I just can't right now."
3. Say "NO!" right away. If you don't want to/can't, tell the person immediately.
4. Respond. (It's not cool to make people wait, while you pretend you never got the email. Let them know!)
5. Be upfront. Don't blame your neighbor, your sister, your husband. Just kindly decline.

Final notes:
 Saying "NO!" to requests does not make you a bad person. That being said, there is a time and a place to say, "YES!" as well. We're all busy. It's not about that. If you can stretch yourself occasionally to help someone else out, that is a good thing. It's NOT good to do so to the determent of your health, family life, or job.

People need help all the time. Only you can decide if/when to provide that help. Paying it forward is always a good idea. If someone helps you out, it's always nice to be willing to help them out. BUT, that doesn't mean you keep score.

Pick and choose your extra-curricular activities. Be aware of your tendency to over-schedule yourself before you commit to anything new.

Carefully evaluate where you are in life, and then use the above steps to let people down easy when the answer is NO!

I really do need to point out that this is a particular "How-to" at whichI tend to fail spectacularly. My dear husband has helped me see when I am over-yes-ing myself. It has indeed seriously impacted our family, when I have said "YES!" when I should have said, "NO!"

I am learning. It is a process.

Just say, "NO!"

3 comments:

Lynn April 10, 2010 at 3:06 PM  

I told my kids at the beginning of the year that I am exhausted and I will not to commit to anything ahead. If they want me to babysit, they call that day. Then if I feel up to it, I do. Usually they can get someone else long before that.

I'm taking care of myself right now, and everyone seems to understand.

Mrs.Spy April 10, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

I use to be someone who said yes to things I didn't want to do and at about age 30 I stopped.
It was very liberating and so much mommy guilt went away.
I love the line from Single's Ward where the guy says "That sounds like a lot of fun if it was somethng I wanted to do!" and have found that the phrase "I don't want to do that, but thanks for thinking of me" works really well. It's honest and it leaves no room for arm twisting.

BloggingBills April 18, 2010 at 4:45 PM  

One thing you need to remember is that women feel the need to 'confess' when they say no. The best way to say no is to thank them for the opportunity such as, "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I won't be able to do it this time." End comment. Do not elaborate. Then you can not worry about what you said, should have said, maybe implied while saying, etc.

Just, 'I'm so sorry, I won't be able to do that this time."

Second thought: decide now what you will ALWAYS say "No" to. For me it was those at-home product parties of any kind: make-up, candles, toys, baskets, kitchen gadgets, etc. In 20 years I have been once and then only because it was next door. Because I never have the money to buy anything and everyone knows you are expected to buy when you go.... so I just freed myself up and don't go.

It works. No guilt, no pressure. I just say, "No."

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