Recent conversations with four friends from different walks of life left me wondering what happened to our collective ability to utter that very simple, two-letter word that could help make life so much less complicated. Anyone who has been around a toddler for even a few moments understands the effectiveness of an emphatic, fully-committed “no.”
So how have we lost this reflexive response when faced with a request for which we have little time or interest? Why, instead, do we say “yes” when we really want to say “no”? There are many viable explanations, so let’s just name a few…we want to help…we know we CAN help…we feel responsible…we do not want to disappoint. Whatever the reason, many women I know (including me!) are uncomfortable saying “no” to someone about whom we care. We cannot form the word, let alone utter it, despite the fact that it was one of the first expressions we ever used to make it clear that we did not want to do something we were asked or told to do.
So as we begin this new year of 2016, with a big smile I propose alternatives that get the job done without actually saying that word we have so much difficulty voicing to anyone we would want to help… even IF we had a bit extra time on our hands AND we wanted to do what they have asked. By all means, we should always feel free to say, “Yes, I would love to help” if that is what we truly feel. But if an affirmative response is not the first one that comes to mind, try one of these responses…
– “I would love to help you, and will get back to you when I have some extra time. Right now I am over-committed.”
– “I’d love to do something that we both enjoy doing, and this isn’t really it. I hope you understand. Please keep me in mind another time.”
– “I understand that this is important to you, and I wish this was something I did well. Have you asked ____ to pitch in? She/he is great at what needs to be done.”
My New Year’s wish for you is that you recognize the value of your time, that you commit to taking care of yourself, and that you remember how simply and effectively you communicated when you were just two years old. Happy New Year!