January 24, 2012

The Art of No

The economy has touched so many people's lives. Many families have been forced to make hard decisions. Many moms have gone back to work to help out. In our school, volunteer positions are not getting filled.

My life is full of many blessings, one of which is working from home. My husband shoulders the responsibility of our financial well being. Although I'm constantly busy, I feel guilty. Guilty that I don't have to juggle a full time job and children.

That guilt propels me to say Yes, to try and make up for all the missing volunteers at school and to ease my own guilt for being luckier than others. I also want my children to get a top notch education, and part of that falls on me.

The other day I complained out loud, "Why can't I ever say No?" My middle daughter overheard me. Not one to hold back her opinion, she said, "Just pretend everyone else is one of your kids. You say No to us all the time."

"Come on, I don't say No all the time," I said, emphasis on all.

"Yes, you do," she replied. I should have noticed the evil gleam in her eye as she continued, "Can we stop and have McDonald's after swim practice?"

Little pistol had me over a barrel. She knew I had chili in the crock pot at home, but I wasn't going down without a fight. "Yes," I said. Ha, ha. Take that.

She smiled. After swim, I bought McDonald's for the girls. Even though my daughter was just playing me, she taught me a lesson. My dinner was put off a night, and I spent unnecessary money buying food I didn't need. All because I said yes. I didn't take the time to think about how that yes would affect my evening.

There is a lot of power in two simple words: yes or no. I need to use one of my favorite parenting stall techniques on adults. The next time someone asks me to volunteer or give of myself, I should say, "We'll see." Then go home and weigh my options, see how my answer will truly affect me (and my family).

I wonder if that phrase will upset adults as much as it always does my children!

What are your best techniques for not overcommitting?


Susan Oloier said...

In the past, I used to be the same way: always saying "yes" to just about everyone. But then I became overwhelmed and started to try out a "no" once in awhile. At first I felt guilty. Now I feel empowered. It also makes the moments I do say "yes" that much richer.
I like your post. I am sure many women can relate to it.

Cerebrations.biz said...

I found that the best no was "no, because" with a valid reason. That way the recipient of the refusal does not feel the tinge of rejection. It is clear that there was another pressing object (e.g., finance, time commitments, or family needs)- and may keep that in mind and invite you again, when things could work out better.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Susan. I love the idea of empowerment versus guilt!

Roy, You are right. Unfortunately, sometimes I don't have a good reason other than I'm overwhelmed. But, I do believe people deal better with reasons. I know I do.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Anonymous said...

I spend a lot of time discussing the art of saying "No" with clients. It is a great skill and much needed! When you say "No" to something you are saying "Yes" to something else. "No" to helping out at the school, is "Yes" to taking the kids swimming.

You've got a smart daughter there!

Eloise Currie said...

"No" is a hard answer to give but necessary if you don't want to end up exhausted. I was taught that refusing someone something was not nice, until I realized that not only was I worn out, I was was making a doormat of myself. I agree with Susan that guilt does come with the first "no" and a few thereafter, but it got easier. And it does mean more when you do say "yes".

Tia Bach said...

Charlie, I love what you say about choices... so much so, it's featured in today's post!

Eloise, Thanks! I know I need to better prioritize what I agree to. I love taking on challenges, but I need to find better balance and sometimes that means missing out on something.

I appreciate everyone's comments!

Natalie Hartford said...

One of my biggest struggles is saying no. I hate letting people down, asserting myself, and putting myself and my needs first.
Hubby often reminds me "you have no issue saying 'no' to me. You often end up saying 'yes' to the people who matter the least in your life?!?!"
He was so right!
I am trying to learn this year to care less about what people think. I'm also trying to adopt a "I will get back to you on that" response to all requests so I can go home and think about them. Either that, or just say "no" to everything up front. LOL!
It's HARD but...necessary!!!

Kelly. said...

I often don't answer the phone - I leave it to go to voicemail so that anyone who truly wants me gives me the opportunity to weigh up what I truly want to do, and what I don't.

I don't like to be bullied or guilted into any commitment.

If someone catches me off guard I'll often say "I'll have to check my diary as I'm not sure if I have something on that day..." If I need more time: "I left my diary at home, can I call you and let you know?"

If they're being really pushy and not wanting to wait for me to 'check my diary': "Well, let's just say it's a 'no' for now as I don't want to let you down and, if you don't find anyone else to cover, I'll let you know."


Tia Bach said...

Natalie, I really have to work on that. Too often I'm worried about people's opinions who would probably take the No and keep on trucking, with little thought.

Kelly, I like the way you think. Avoiding the quick answer to really give it some thought.


I just found out this post was featured on BlogHer. Guess I'm not the only one who doesn't quite have the art of saying No down.