Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The art of saying no

I very often say yes. You see, I like doing a little more for everyone else. I actually find it very hard to say no. So I say yes. To alot. Although I must say, I feel I have become better at it. A tad anyway. Even though I was asked to be leader of the parent representatives at the school where my kids attend. And I said yes. The part I am proud of, is that my yes was not unconditional. I said yes if I could be a leader in a team of two, and not alone. The principal accepted my request, so at least I am not alone in this. 

I don´t say yes because I feel forced to it. Or because there are no other options. I just honestly want to help others. The problem is, we only have 24 hours a day. And I am in no way a superhero with any powers that could help me achieve more. (I wish I was!) So I know that yes is not always the best word to choose. That means I have to use that other word more. That word that I don´t like. 

Have you ever though about why you think it is hard to say no? I attended a wee course in stress mastering yesterday, and twice they said the following:

"Always remember that you say no to the request, not the person asking!"

I think I often transfer the no to the person asking. I really don´t want to be negative towards other people. Yes-people probably also exaggerate how hard it is for others to accept our no. We feel bad when we let that venomous word escape our lips. 

The advice at the course was to say no loud and clear (in addition to a short explanation on why if we really must), and to move out from the situation, either in words or physically. Standing in the situation could confuse the person asking. And such pressing them to ask again. Quelle horreur!

We need to ask ourselves a few questions when asked to do something. Do I really have time for this? Do I really have the capacity required? And do I really want to do this? 

Remember too that it probably is easier for others to ask us if they know we have the guts to say no when needed. 

I definitely have potential to say no a little more. And I know I can become better at saying no more clearly. It is just so unpleasant to say no to someone who needs a helping hand. But I need to be present with my family in my more than hectic everyday life. I need to prioritize.  I just have to remember that I answer no to the request and not the person asking. 

So the next time you ask me for help and I answer no, remember I still love you! 



  1. This was a little like looking in the mirror. I'm a yes-man myself, and like you, genuinely want to help people. It's a burden and a joy at the same time. But you're right, people like us need to learn to say no at the appropriate times! Thanks for the perspective:)

    1. You are welcome! You are very right, it is truly a burden and a joy at the same time. Which reminds me of the conference talks on the topics of choosing between better and best. It is necessary, but definitely not easy. :-)