Friday, March 27, 2009

No phone no pool no pets

“Just say no?” asks Mom.

“Yes,” I say. “Oops, I mean NO.”

“Really. Okay. Will you learn to cook?”


“Will you drive to Michigan to see me tonight?”


“Will you call yourself a Christian?”

This week’s assignment: Just say no.

Saying no ain’t easy.

So we say yes to avoid conflict or hurt feelings and we end up resentful and stressed.

I used to be more of a yes person.

No shit, Hedy, we’ve heard the stories.


Now I’m slowly getting more comfortable with no. It’s still a bit of a struggle for me because I like helping people – it’s one of the main reasons I enjoy my job so much.

But I’ve learned that saying yes all the time gets me into trouble because there are only so many hours in the day and if I say yes to everyone and everything, chances are something’s gonna slip.
We tend to soften our no’s. Do you do this?

“I’d love to, but I’ve got this thing…”

“No I can’t today, but maybe we could…”

When they’re truthful, these excuses are okay. The danger is when we tell Big Whopping Lies to avoid saying no.

No by itself. No without excuses. No without qualifiers.

The Power of No is enough.
The other unexpected bonus of learning about the Power of No is that I’m learning to accept hearing it as well.

I’m not taking no personally.

I can let myself feel disappointed but it’s not wrecking my day like I’m some two year old throwing a tantrum.
The other part of the assignment was the Silent No. Someone might not ask you out right for help, but they’re telling you a story with the goal of getting you to offer.

I like this version of no better than saying it. But it's sneakier and less powerful.
Okay, the fact is, I’m struggling with this assignment.

Mostly because the majority of people who ask me for stuff are at work and it’s my job to do things for them.

I almost said no yesterday. I punted.

A sales rep stopped by my desk to pick my brain about a big client meeting she’s got next week and I was in the middle of customizing a PowerPoint deck for another sales rep who’s got an equally big client meeting next week.

“We should talk about the BI work we’ve done in healthcare and see if it’s enough to fill a slide, whaddaya think?”

I already know it’s not enough; it’s why we don’t have one yet.

I could feel the tension rise from my shoulders into my neck and finally settle in directly behind my eyeballs.

It was a perfect opportunity to say “NO!”

“Sounds good,” I say. “But can we talk about this tomorrow or Monday? I’m jammed right now with Adri’s thing for _____.”

So not quite a complete failure at the whole no thing. But it’s a start.
Mini good thing list:

Scottie came through surgery just fine (albeit with staples in his gourd); he called yesterday sounding rested and happy.
The biggest blessing of my life - my Mom - was born 63 years ago yesterday.
A house I have been coveting since 1992 is for sale in Geneva.
The meditation workshop in the office this week was lovely.
A really nice voice mail from Da on Tuesday.
The new BIG Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, try ‘em.
Not one, but TWO birthday cakes.
Discovering the best thing about Facebook: EVERYONE knows it’s your birthday.
Jim is home and cooking healthy meals for me.
This class -- it's nothing short of a miracle and is bringing me even closer to the people I love most.
Singing Good Morning, Good Morning with Mom this morning.
When the bus comes early.
Being the first person in the office and turning on the lights.
Getting this quote in my in box today: “We should not expect others to be like us, because life becomes really boring when we have to live with our own shadows. We should learn to respect the uniqueness in every human.
I am listening to: King of the Road – Roger Miller
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Feeling the Friday kind of joyful


molly gras said...

I guess in the spirit of this post I should shout a big resounding "NO!" but no, oh no ... I must be heard heralding a gigantic "HUZZAH!" and "YAY!"

Happy, happy birthday my blogger pal and keep up the good internal workings ... believe it or not, but your good kharma does somehow seem to flow across the internet and land right in my little unknown world!

wafelenbak said...

Happy birthday! Is it today...?
I need to work on the Saying No assignment for a week, but in my social life more than work. It's HARD. I am all about the "soft" no's...*sigh*

Anonymous said...

I love you dearly Hedy, but NO, I didn't turn 63.... I turned 64.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

I think the key is knowing your limitations and boundaries. If you know that the only job you could manage to fit in would be a half-assed one, are you really giving them what they have asked for?

I say no.

I used to be a "yes" man too, but too often it turned me into a wreck. I am now very much a "not right now, can we talk about it [insert specific time here]?" kind of guy. Usually following that up with an apology for not being more available. Alternatively, I am sometimes a "I'm working on [something] for [someone], but if you can get him to move his due date I can fit that in" kind of guy.

If you are the only person for the job, they will wait. If not, they will find someone else.