Thursday, 12 June 2008

The power of learning to say “NO”

No" is such a simple word...Just two little letters. For years, I have unsuccessfully battled to master it. I am sure I said "No!" quite well when I was two years old. However, over the years as I grew into a child and then adult who craved to please people and be liked, the simple word somehow dropped out of my vocabulary.

Is it just me who struggles? It is just that I have always found it so much easier to say, "I'll be glad to..." (Eleven letters) or "When do you need me to..." (Seventeen letters.)

How nice it must be to be able to say a nice ‘assertive’ “NO.”
"No, I won't be able to help with that. I've already got something else I am doing on that day." Short and simple.
I think I have muted before on several occasions I do not do short and simple. My attempts at “No” in the past have usually been accompanied by weak excuses and rationalizations, which left the other person unconvinced, sure that I would ‘give in’ in the end. Predictably I usually did, unable to risk offending someone or the wrath of him or her thinking badly of me. The trouble with not being able to say no is that it can put an enormous strain on your time and resource. It can drain your energy. In addition, as I found out over recent years, it can sap your soul.

You should not need an excuse to support your stand. Why should we feel guilty saying no because we need more time to ourselves? What is wrong with not agreeing to take on a job because you really do not fancy doing it?

Take for example the approach I had a couple of weeks ago from our Parochial Church Council for me to become their Treasurer. To be fair they must have though “ex Bank Manager-she would be ideal...and she’s at home all day... (Well, I am sure that is what some people think, even my husband. Or is that my guilty conscience?) ...and she’s always getting involved with things in the village...the perfect candidate.” Except I am not.

I was a Personal Banking Manager where everything is system driven. My focus was on customer service and sales, not Trading Profit and Loss accounts. Maths was my weakest subject at school. Remember that I was the bank manager who never even got ‘O’ Level maths! Even to think of being Treasurer filled me with horror. I know I would dread that responsibility every month.

Since I retired from work, I have never been so busy-I don’t know how I ever managed to fit in work! My primary role is the family. Idle Jack takes a considerable amount of cajoling and supporting him to get anything done in a day! With Quiet Mousie it is the opposite with his demands for healthy eating (he’s on the Rooney diet) and countless trips to football coaching and training. There are packed lunches to prepare, dinners to plan, plants to water and tend, veggies to pick over, slugs to control. Then the housework and my ridiculous attempts to be the perfect domestic goddess (Well, if I bake every week, I must be a good mother.) I am currently selling off all my remaining stocks of bags to close my little craft business finally so that I can take things a little easier. I long to write but recently have let my sacrosanct two hours in a morning lapse due to everything else I have on the go.

The simple fact of the matter is that I am already spreading myself too thin and do not feel I am able to get on with anything-at least not well, or on time as I would like. I do not want to do any more.

I could go on...My point is-did I tell them that? No, I did not.

It was very nice of them really and I felt honoured that they should ask me. However, instead of saying “No” there and then, I asked for a couple of days to consider. Then I went back to them and gave a long list of excuses-my health was not very good, I already had such a lot on with campaigning for the Post Office and editing the Village News, then there was my work on the school ‘friends’ committee and trying to support them. On and on the excuses...

The Chairman of the PCC is a very nice man and said he understood. “Would you maybe just come onto the PCC then? We could do with some fresh blood and you would be a great asset to our fundraising efforts...”
Well, what could I say?

I had my first meeting last week. We are having a village barn dance in three weeks time. I am helping make a chilli, selling tickets, and making bunting and creating ‘wanted’ posters. Will I never learn I hear you ask?

Two days after the PCC meeting, ‘Pervy Reg’ flagged me down in the village.
“I hear you have been voted onto the PCC, well done Debbie. You will bring a fresh perspective on the fundraising. I wonder whether you would consider coming onto the Village Hall Committee if you don’t have too much on already.”

This time I resisted asking for time to deliberate my decision. There was nothing to deliberate. I know I am running at maximum. I cannot be productive if I keep taking on more and more commitments. Something has to give. It is usually my health.

“I am very sorry. I know you are working hard to raise funds. However, I feel my plate is already rather full with commitments and I can’t take on any more at present. But thank you for asking me...”

I know it was not a perfectly executed “No.” There was still rather too much waffling and a need to apologise and be nice. And I fretted all evening about what he would say or think about me.

Still, I should at least give myself credit-it was a step in the right direction and good practise for saying such an important two letter word.

I hope you all practise it too...

Until another day
Bye for now

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Milla said...
Sounds like you have really big things to say no to - they are massive commitments and people must now that it's not just like having a couple of kids back after school for tea, but an on-going drain on your time. You could say that you'd worry you wouldn't be able to do it justice etc - yes, I know, I'm another who finds it hard to say NO (though F9 says it all the time and sometimes I quite amdire him for it) and always feel I have to provide a massive excuse. A man wouldn't think like that, I'm sure. Be strong!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
ChrisH said...
Well done! You won't get those precious two hours unless you do say no. Good for you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Elizabethd said...
Good for you. Sometimes 'no' is a very important word to learn!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Working mum said...
Well done. You will find that people will respect you for saying "No" and will be all the more grateful when you do say "Yes". Keep your extra curricular stuff enjoyable and manageable I say!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Crystal Jigsaw said...
You have taken on quite a lot there haven't you! The farmer finds it difficult to say no unless I'm asking him to do a job for me and I'm useless! I'm like you, if I say no and give my excuses I spend ages afterwards wondering if the person will still like me, that's if they ever liked me at all!!

CJ xx

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Inthemud said...
Yes, I've always struggled with the word "No", if I do say No , I tend to then feel so guilty, I change my mind to Yes, I did an assertiveness course once and did practise more of saying No , got better for a while, then slipped back.

Didn't realise you'd become just Angel instead of CCA!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
bodran... said...
I still have problems saying it so i just hide from people!
I've just been doing a catch up. your trip to glastonbry sound fascinating...
How are you fixed for sunday in ludlow instead of hiking all the way here ?? i've put a pst on the cm xx

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Frances said...
Sometimes, it occurs to me that I have a difficult time saying no to what others ask, but that the result is that I have said a quick no to what I myself might have been planning. It's good to practice saying yes to yourself!


Thursday, June 12, 2008
mountainear said...
I'm not very good at saying 'No' either - but I have noticed that when I've got a full diary things do get done - and generally it is fun and fulfilling. Honest!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
CAMILLA said...
Hi Angel,

Yep, I am just the same, I have always struggled with the NO word. I can be up to my eyes in one thing or another, and I have fear of saying that two letter word. Then if I do say NO, then feel terribly guilty afterwards.

I have to keep reminding myself that you are now Angel and not CCA.

Good for you Angel in saying the two letter word, and as they say, one can only do so much.


Thursday, June 12, 2008
Cait O'Connor said...
It's hard Angel but I have learned that less is more . in everything. Too much leads to stress....whatever it is. It's my mantra now. Saying No is so hard though but it will get easier the more you do it!

Friday, June 13, 2008
Pipany said...
Golly I could have written this Angel! Don't know if I am getting busier or just cope less well now! I think my permanently grumpy/harassed face is putting people off asking me to help with such things - worth a go?!! xx

Sunday, June 15, 2008
Preseli Mags said...
This rang so true with me too. I was asked to be treasurer of one group and reluctantly agreed. I found it so stressful! Then another group asked and I tried so hard to say no - layers of emotional blackmail later and I was a treasurer again! More stress, sleepless nights over accounts, fund-raising, grant applications etc. Never again! Next time I will say no, just as you did. But why is it such a difficult thing to say? Brilliant blog!

Monday, June 16, 2008
muddyboots said...
practice saying no in front of the bathroom mirror, no No NO! a little stamp of the foot might help.

Monday, June 16, 2008
Exmoorjane said...
How funny - have just finished writing a feature on exactly t his - how to say NO.
Apparently the key is to say it very quickly and immediately - then you can apologise all you like. So it's a brisk, 'No, sorry.....' then blah-di-blah-di-blah. I do it myself ever since I did a 'Just say no' workshop and it's fabulous. Works a treat. people don't even bother asking now! I also say that I'm allergic to committees (which is true - I come out all bright red and puffy faced and make strange spluttering noises). jxxxx

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
snailbeachshepherdess said...
The thought of a treasurers job would just leave me in gibbering heap...horrible.
How are you? How are those Xams going? have been wondering..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Fennie said...
I know just the feeling Angel! I am a sucker for ending up doing things I don't want and don't have time to do.
But sometimes it is easier to say 'yes' and just do it, than to pfaff about umming and I'll let you knowing. How do you avoid feeling guilty when you say 'no'- that's the problem.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
elizabethm said...
Oh I like this blog! I have learnt to say no although used to be terrible. Jane is right. If "No" is the first word that comes out, as in "No, I'm sorry..." it is amazing how much better people hear it than when it comes with prevarications running before it. Although mountainear is right that it is amazing what one can do if you want to do it - wanting ,that is the key!

Saturday, June 21, 2008
Milla said...
have just come to see if anything more on how you are? OK, I hope? And have commented on the end of chapter 3's story, too xx

Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sally's Chateau said...
It's such a simple short word isn't it ? I have trouble saying it too..........

Sunday, June 29, 2008
annakarenin said...
Good for you. It is hard to do, I made the descision when we moved here that I was not going to end up on masses of commities and have pretty much stuck to it. The pressure does come but remain firm for you and your family. Just being a mother is work enough for anyone.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Milla said...
still not a peep from you, sigh. hope all is well, D?

Friday, July 25, 2008
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