I don’t like saying “No” to a request. I don’t always like saying “Yes” either. But I do like to help, and I tend to reason that if I can do something, I should do it. Like the Optus commercials, I say “Yes” – a lot.
And once I’ve said “Yes” I’m committed. I need to follow through. I hate to let anyone down.
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Here’s the thing with always saying “Yes.” I get really busy, I do more than I should, I end up doing a lot of things that other people should be doing, and the things that are really mine to do get pushed down the priority list.
Worse still I end up on the bottom of the priority list because I don’t look after myself.
Sooner or later, the smile fades, I get weary, stressed and resentful, and if I don’t do something to address it, I burn out. I know this because I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit.
Confession time. I am a serial offender when it comes to over-committing. I over-commit, over and over again.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner.
Friends, family and colleagues have told me that I need to learn to say “No.” And that’s true. At least some of the time.
However, for those of us who find saying “No” difficult – for all kinds of reasons – it doesn’t always feel like helpful advice. We may just nod our head in agreement, and then carry on saying “Yes” because it seems easier and we don’t feel so guilty. Because saying “No” can feel selfish, even when it’s the wisest, most loving thing we can do.
Sometimes I discover that I’ve said “Yes” before I’ve even realised the full extent of the request, or considered my existing commitments and priorities. And the number of times I’ve immediately dropped what I’m doing to help a colleague with a request are countless.
Yep, when it comes to changing habits, I’m definitely a slow learner.
Of course there are also plenty of occasions when it’s good and right to say “Yes.”
One thing I have learned recently though, is that “Yes” and “No” are not the only answers available. Sometimes the best answer lies in between “No” and “Yes.”
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that, but here’s what I can do.”
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I’ve discovered that sometimes when I need to say “No” to a request, it doesn’t always need to be a flat-out no. I may be able to do part of what’s been asked, or even offer a different solution.
And that can be just as well received as an unqualified “Yes.” That’s good news for someone who finds it hard to say “No.”
Are you wrestling with how to respond to a request? Perhaps your best answer is somewhere in between Yes and No.