Present Over Perfect: #A-Z Challenge
“Draw close to people who honour your no, who cheer you on for telling the truth, who value your growth more than they value their own needs getting met or their own pathologies celebrated.”
“No is a complete sentence. So is ‘I don’t want to.’ ” I can’t remember where I read that, but I really like it. Of course, liking it doesn’t mean I live by the sentiment or ever have. Can you relate? Do you have difficulty saying ‘No’? If you do say the word, will people honour your no or do they try to talk you out of it? Do they succeed?
Why We Have Trouble Saying No
The reasons we have difficulty saying no aren’t rocket science. There are two–relationship and appearance. We don’t want to disappoint people or hurt their feelings, even if they’re total strangers. And/or we want to be perceived as kind, caring, competent, perhaps even superhuman.
Why Saying Yes Too Often is a Problem
After saying yes when we should say no, a sequence of events kicks in:
- Other people’s priorities take precedence over our own;
- We get tired, stressed and resentful;
- Often directing most of our resentment inward, which means negative self-talk;
- Our productivity declines, a particular problem if we’re in the workforce,
- And, worst of all, we don’t have time for the things that are truly important to us.
I like the way that Niequist summarizes this:
“In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments.”
Six Ways to Say No
- Practice on the little requests, like the store clerk who wants your email address.
- Buy yourself time. Say “I’ll get back to you.”
- While doing #2 above, ask yourself if this is something you really want to do. If you’re really busy, ask yourself what activity you’re willing to delete in order to fit this one in.
- Listen to your body. If the request makes you feel tired, or if you were tired already, ‘no’ is the appropriate and self-respecting answer.
- Get clear about your values and priorities, then go through your daily and weekly activities looking for the ones that don’t align. Put them on a stop doing list. Execute that list.
- Practice with a friend or in front of a mirror. Try to get to the point where you can give a clean ‘no’ rather than a bunch of excuses.
Niequist has words of wisdom here too. She says when it comes to people who won’t honour your no, you should
“Bless them. But don’t spend too much time with them.”
How are you with the word ‘No’ –uttering it and hearing it?