Remember - it's okay to say no!
I think a fair number of us have had a problem with saying "no" - either to people or food - in the past. This is just a reminder that it's almost always okay to turn down somebody trying to get you to do something or trying to sell you something.
No need to let yourself get hooked into something you don't want to do or isn't in your best interests. No need to make excuses. No need to run and hide like a child. No need to get angry or resentful at other people who don't magically know that you don't really want to do what they're asking you to do.
Yeah, there are occasionally situations where it might be in your best interest or a really loving act to say yes to something you don't want. Maybe the boss' kid is selling gift-wrapping paper (in February) to raise money for a field trip and you're trying to position yourself for a promotion. Maybe your beloved and semi-housebound grandmother who walks very slowly and wants to stop to look at everything wants you to take her antiquing on your day off. But how many situations in life are really like that? Not that many, in my experience.
You don't have to help everybody. You don't have to do everything everybody wants you to. You don't need to perform on command to get people to like you (and if you do, then you are in a very toxic situation). You don't have to be liked by everyone. And you don't have to feel bad about those things. If somebody gets mad because you decline to assist them with something that is outside the normal or formal (for work) scope of your relationship or that you just can't handle and still attend to more important duties, that's their problem. And, in my experience at least, most people are okay with hearing "no". When given a polite and direct answer (with an honest explanation, if necessary), most people are pretty understanding. The ones who aren't usually seem to have their own problems to deal with or to be rather inconsiderate or petty anyway. Why let yourself be sucked into other people's drama or dysfunction?
Your time, money, and energy are valuable. Don't forget that or let others use you. And don't waste those things out of fear that somebody will disapprove if you don't allocate those resources to them.
I know you're really busy and I'm totally not trying to say your time is less valuable than mine, but can you just do this assignment for me? I typed out instructions for how I want you to do it. The boss wants it by the end of the day, but I really want to sneak out and spend 2 hours at lunch with my friends from college.
No./I have too much to do/I already have plans for lunch and won't have time to do your work.
Can you work late? Despite the fact that I knew I'd need people to stay late tonight and that I'm responsible for setting the schedule, I didn't actually schedule anyone to work and I've already let everybody leave - except that one person who doesn't do any work anyway. She'll be here to help you. I know you can handle it. I won't be able to give you overtime for this, but you can add the hours to your paid personal leave that I've noticed you hardly ever use.
No./No, sorry. I have plans I just can't break.
We're raising money for our ((grand)children's) school/trip/team/band/scout troop/mission trip/Space Camp/charity that feeds starving kids in China. Would you like to make a donation or buy the stuff they gave us to peddle?
No, thank you./I'm sorry, I can't help you right now/I've already made all the charitable contributions my budget can handle for this year. (Good luck, though.)
Hey sis! I'm just having such a hard time managing all my self-created drama. I've decided that drug dealer I was kind of seeing wasn't the guy for me and I'm thinking about getting back together with my baby daddy. Can you watch the baby this weekend so I can drive 200 miles to go get drunk and fight with him?
No./No, sorry. I've got plans.
We just never do a good job planning this volunteer-heavy event, despite the fact that we've been at it for 10 years, now. You've been such a wonderful volunteer these past few years that we would really like to thank you by nominating you to take on all the major responsibilities related to planning and executing this thing that at least half the town will attend and comment on. (Don't worry though, your name won't appear in embarrassingly large font on the program. In fact, we may not put it in at all!)
No./No, sorry. I just don't have the time to take on that role.
Of course, a lot of situations in life aren't that clear-cut. (Although it's amazing to me how many of them actually are. Who do these people think they are, anyway?) Even so, practicing saying no directly, confidently, and courteously (when it's possible) can be a great way to give yourself a mental boost and keep in control of your life. When you say yes, do it because it's something you want to do or because it's in your best interest and worth the time/money/energy it'll cost you. It might also get you more respect. I have more respect for people who are up-front about what they are and aren't willing to take on than I do for people who let others load them down with tasks they don't want or who lie or try to physically evade a person who wants to ask a favor of them. Self-confidence and self-respect are admirable qualities. Saying no can get old, but it gets old for the people who ask, too. Eventually they'll leave you alone and you can focus on what you really want and need to do.
Last edited by theox; 02-26-2012 at 10:32 PM.