As many of you know, I’m a HUGE advocate for saying ‘no’ — not because I’m lazy, not because I don’t want to do my part, not because my life is super stressful, and not because my schedule is stretched to the max.
I’m an advocate for saying ‘no’ simply because I know what my strengths and my gifts are, I know where I can use my talents best, and I know that by saying ‘no’, I’m actually saying ‘yes’ to a whole bunch of other things/people/activities that align with my goals and fit my current season of life.
Plus, if I DON’T say ‘no’, there’s a pretty good chance my life will become super stressful and my schedule will become stretched to the max. I’ll end up doing a pile of things I’m not great at and don’t enjoy, while I shove off the things I’m passionate about, and the things that line up with my own personal goals and values.
Now, certainly, we will NOT always enjoy or have a passion for everything we need to do each day — and there are lots of times we will need to say ‘yes’ to activities, jobs, commitments, and obligations we don’t necessarily jump for joy to do.
That’s just life.
However, when the choice is ours (as it so often is) I encourage you to say ‘NO’.
So we’re good with saying ‘no’… right?!?!
Well… today, I’d like to take things one step further.
I encourage you to say ‘no’ WITHOUT an explanation!
If you’ve never consciously thought about this before, I can almost guarantee it will be REALLY hard to do!
Just think how often you say things like:
- No, sorry, I can’t be on that committee because I’m already on x, y, and z committees.
- No, sorry, I can’t stop by tomorrow because I have all my kids home with me.
- No, thank you, I don’t want dessert because I’m watching my weight and trying to cut a few calories.
- No, thank you, I don’t need your baby clothing because we already have so much.
- No, sorry, I can’t pick up an extra shift because I just want to go home and be with my family (or by myself!).
- No, sorry, we can’t attend the party because we have so much going on that week and our schedule is too full.
- No, sorry, I just don’t feel like I am gifted in that area and would rather use my time and talents elsewhere.
Now, to be clear, I don’t think any of those explanations are bad or inappropriate. And, I most certainly understand WHY we feel the need to explain ourselves whenever we dish out a ‘no’ response.
However, one thing I’ve noticed in my own life, is when I say “no + explanation” the other person often comes back at me with a counter offer, a guilt trip, or another possibility for the situation.
Let me give you a few more examples based on the explanations I gave above.
No, sorry, I can’t be on that committee because I’m already on x, y, and z committees.
- but x committee will be finished next month and y committee has too many people so you could probably drop that committee instead.
No, sorry, I can’t stop by tomorrow because I have all my kids home with me.
- Oh just bring your kids, we’d love to see them too!
No, thank you, I don’t want dessert because I’m watching my weight and trying to cut a few calories.
- One dessert won’t totally blow your diet… and it’s my famous cheesecake. You really shouldn’t miss out!
No, thank you, I don’t need your baby clothing because we already have so much.
- I’ll just bring them along in case you want to look at them. Kids go through so much clothing you know!
No, sorry, I can’t pick up an extra shift because I just want to go home and be with my family (or by myself!)
- But you had off last weekend and I’d really like to be with my family for my child’s (insert special thing) this weekend.
No, sorry, we can’t attend the party because we have so much going on that week and our schedule is too full.
- What’s one more activity? Maybe you can skip something else.
No, sorry, I just don’t feel like I am gifted in that area and would rather use my time and talents elsewhere.
- You’re more gifted than I am. You would do a fantastic job — there might be a little learning curve, but I know you’ll be great!
See what’s happening there?
By giving explanations for our ‘no’ responses, we’ve opened the door for counter-offers and the need to say ‘no’ again, give another explanation or excuse, and maybe even lie to get out of something we simply don’t want to do.
If we had just said “no, not this time.” the conversation would be over.
I think the diagram below is funny — but also very true. If we say our ‘no’ hesitantly, with question, or with an attached explanation, there are so many times when that ‘no’ turns into a ‘yes’.
Again, I’m not naive enough to think a simple “no” response will work every single time. I realize we often need to explain ourselves in order to be respectful, polite, or kind. And certainly, there ARE reasons to “give in” and change our initial ‘no’ responses to ‘yes’ based on the circumstances.
However, by simply being mindful of how we phrase our ‘no’ responses and not offering needless explanations, will can save ourself time, energy, and the need to continually justify our actions and decisions to others.
Think you can do it?
Clara thinks you can 🙂