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It is Ok to Say No

This post originally appeared in September of 2013, but I needed to read it again this week in lieu of family being in town as a reminder to myself that I don’t ‘have to engage in every activity with them.  This Thursday we are continuing the Trust Yourself Already series by talking about Speaking up for Yourself at the Loft…learn some tips to get your ideas and opinions across without losing your mind.

saying no

You are picking the kids up from school and a fellow mom comes running out to greet you and quickly asks, “hey would you be willing to bring 2 dozen cupcakes to the bake sale tomorrow morning, we are short on volunteers and we need them to be homemade?” Your first reaction is  ‘ugh! I don’t have time to bake anything I am so behind on everything, no no no’ But what comes out of your mouth is, “Sure, no problem I would LOVE to help out”. As you drive away you think, ‘Damn, what just happened!!!, how did I get suckered into this stuff again?’

Rationally you know it is ok to say no.  However, more often than not you find yourself agreeing do stuff you don’t want to do.

I mean after all we as women are suppose to ‘to do it all’. We are supposed to be there for our friends.  We SHOULD be generous partners, daughters, mothers and co-workers.  True.  Generosity is a wonderful thing but when it gets to the point that we are choosing others happiness or others joy over our own then it is a problem.

Here are some common examples:

Your neighbor calls and asks to drop her kids off to play with your kids.  You love her kids and it isn’t a burden to have them there but you are planning a quiet family dinner and getting your kids to bed early. You tell her no it won’t work this time and offer to make a play date some time soon.

A co-worker invites you to her baby shower on a Saturday afternoon.  You have the kids’ soccer games in the morning and Saturday afternoon is the only time you can catch up on laundry and errands.  You say no to the shower but sponsor a week’s worth of diaper service after the baby is born.

You get a notification in the mail that you child’s classroom is looking for mom’s who are willing to sew costumes for the fall pageant. You hate sewing and you are already overwhelmed with life. You politely decline saying you would be willing to do ticket sales or something else that you enjoy more. It is ok to say no.

Your husband volunteered to bring something to the company potluck and asks if you would be willing to make your crock-pot chili for him to take in.  You have a big project due at work and just don’t have the time. You tell him no and offer him suggestions for things he can pick up at the store.  It is ok to say no.

It is ok to admit you don’t like to do something, you don’t want to spend your time with someone, you have other plans or you just don’t want to do something.  It is ok to be honest with yourself and say no.

In each of the examples above there was a NO and a loving follow-up: a reschedule, a gift, or a different solution. Saying no doesn’t have to be harsh or mean. It can be loving, genuine and honest.

So the next time someone asks you to do something and your first response is “ugh” pause and remind yourself it is OKAY to say lovingly say no.

I would love to hear from you in the comments:  Do you struggle with saying no?  What are some tips you have for lovingly saying no?

2 Responses to It is Ok to Say No

  1. I have a lot of trouble with saying no.

    One tool I try to employ (which I got from this blog) is “I’ll get back to you.” It helps me bypass that awkward, on-the-spot moment that so often leads to the wrong decision. I’ve even learned that some people actually try to leverage that moment to get the response they want. So particularly if someone won’t take “I’ll get back to you” as an answer, I need to make my decision away from him/her.

    The other thing I try to remember is I don’t have atone for saying no. If I say no to happy hour on Tuesday, I don’t have to offer to do it Friday.

    I try not to lie about why I’m saying no. There doesn’t have to be a prior obligation that is more urgent or more important.

    My mileage varies with these tools though! 🙂

  2. Nancy Jane Smith says:

    I love the I’ll get back to you idea–I use that one a lot!! Excellent point on the not atoning–that is a huge piece that I left out of the blog is that you don’t have to ‘make it up later’. Thank you so much for pointing that out!