Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Say ‘No’ and Mean it—The First Time

How many times have you said "yes" when you wanted to say "no?" 

If you're like me, the answer istoo many.

We know all the reasons why we do this.

We are the nurturers, the caretakers, and the fix-it-uppers. We are the selfless ones, the “fairer sex,” and the peacemakers.

Well, that gets old. Feeling run-down, torn in two, guilty, and resentful from trying to do too much gets old.

Something I’ve learned from running my own business is that time and energy truly are finite. With all due respect to the fine concept of multi-tasking, time and energy spent in one endeavor is time and energy not spent in another.

So when I say yes to all sorts of things I’d really rather not be doing, then I’m going to be stealing precious time and energy away from something I actually want or need, to do.

Here’s a (real-life) example.

My freshman college student asks for money to study abroad over the summer, when I’d already told him months earlier that I would not finance any study abroad trips until his Junior year.

But it’s a great opportunity he says. But I really want to go, he says. But all the other kids are doing it, he says.

But its expensive, I say. But I think you’re a little young, I say. But you just got to that damn school, I say. Couldn’t you wait a little while before leaving?

Back and forth, around and around, finally I open the door a crack and say, ok, I’ll think about it.

And I think about it. And think about it. And think about it. And then, right before a payment is due, I say no. And my son is mad.

And I say to him, I apologize. Because when I said “no” the first time, that’s how I truly felt. And I shouldn’t have entertained any other conversations with you about it.

He got over it, and so did I. But not before I’d spent a ton of unproductive energy and time feeling guilty, anxious, and angry.

But I did learn something important. I learned the secret to saying “no” and meaning it.


The “secret” is … focus.

When you’re focused, you can say no without guilt, angst, or second-guessing.

Focused on raising a child with character? Then it’s “no,” I won’t give you money for new jeans after you spent yours on a concert. “No,” you may not hoard your toys when your friend visits, and “no” I won’t pay your car insurance.

Focused on attaining peace of mind? Then it’s “no,” to that “friend” who sucks the life blood out of you, “no” to volunteering for that function you don’t particularly enjoy and don't have time for anyway, and “no” to getting upset at the jerk who jumped the line at the supermarket.

Focused on building a business that pays your bills? Then it’s “no” to any work that requires too much effort for too little money. “No” to the loved one who wants to chat when you should be targeting and contacting prospective clients, and “no” to your friend’s unsolicited advice about how to get a “real job.”

No, no, no.

Try it.

No comments:

Post a Comment