It’s August, and miraculously enough, where I live we are having perfect convertible weather: temperatures in the high 70’s with a slight breeze, blue skies with puffy clouds. A great day for driving with the top down, letting the breeze ruffle your hair.
This weather, like the first crisp days of Fall, brings with it renewed ambition and exciting dreams.
Stay tuned for the program I am working up for all you overwhelmed people I talk to and hear from; have I got a zinger coming up for you!! Accessible, affordable and most of all, life transforming!!
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Why can’t you say “NO”?
I work with so many overly-busy women who are stressed beyond belief, yet they still find it difficult to say “no” to the demands that come to them from all sides. Even when they are given permission, or even urged to say no to these demands by friends, family or managers, they still find it almost impossible to open their mouths and let this sound come out.
Why is this? Well, here’s one possible reason.
Fear of hurting the other person or being seen as “bad” or “selfish”:
I have noticed that people who are afraid of saying “no” are often also people who find it difficult to hear “no,” experiencing it as rejection of their person or the belittling of their request or taste.
So, they naturally assume that the other person will hear “no” in the same way.
Here are some tips to feeling comfortable with hearing that dreaded word: “no” often means “not now,” or “I have another commitment/emergency that I must handle at this time,” or “I don’t like that particular event/food/whatever – but I like you just fine.” It can also mean, “I wouldn’t spend time with you/do that for you if you were the last person on earth.” However, why not wait for more evidence before you assume that is the real meaning?
Don’t assume the “no” you hear is permanent; the same request made at another time might well bring a “yes.”
When you need to use the word (and you should), here are some guidelines:
Don’t assume the other person is as sensitive as you are about the situation. Do assume the other person is a mature adult who can tolerate the small frustration of hearing “no,” especially if the situation is made clear.
Say “no” to the request clearly, unemotionally, and, if possible, give the real reason. “I’m exhausted and really need to go to bed early. I’d love to spend some time with you when I can really relax and enjoy your company, but this just isn’t the time.”
Don’t give phony excuses – pleading a sprained ankle on which you can’t put weight will make you feel really foolish if you’re caught standing firmly on it at the local pizza parlor. “My grandmother is very sick and I must visit her” has been used too many times by pretenders to hold up without real evidence, and being found gleefully shopping later on not only undermines your honesty but also casts doubt on your ability to care about other people. When caught out in the lie, you’ll not only look foolish but the other person will feel hurt and irritated. It can be a relationship-ending move.
As for thinking you are selfish for saying “no”: Do remember, saying “no” can be a way of protecting your commitment to promises you have already made – to loved ones, to co-workers, or to clients … or even to yourself.
It has been said that “you can’t say ‘yes’ until you can say ‘no.’” When you agree, reluctantly, to do something or be somewhere when you’d really rather not, your mind will wander, your facial expression and your body will covertly signal that you are not there wholeheartedly. Do you think the other person doesn’t notice this?
Once people recognize you are willing to say “no” to things that don’t fit your agenda or your tastes, they will be secure in the knowledge that when you say “yes” it is really deeply sincere. What a compliment to the other person! Instead of coming across as selfish, you are establishing yourself as an honorable person, one who can be depended upon – in fact, a person of integrity.
Doesn’t that feel good?
The Confident Introvert
“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
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