• Carla Collis Gesite

5 Times When No is the Only Answer


When was the last time you said No? Chances are, it's been a while. (Well, except maybe saying No to your kids.) Women, in particular, have a difficult time saying No. We don't want to let somebody down or hurt their feelings. Or we wonder what people will think of us if we say No.


So what happens?


We volunteer to chair the committee for that Christmas banquet...

and we're so exhausted we don't enjoy Christmas very much.


We agree to dog sit for our neighbors...

and spend time walking the neighbor's dog when we've been neglecting our own.


When our colleague is up against a deadline, we help him out...

and work so late we miss our daughter's piano recital.


Here's the thing. Until we learn to say No, we'll have too much to do and not enough time to do it. We can't manufacture more time. So, when we say Yes to one thing, we're saying No to something else.


When we spend time doing things that aren’t important to us, we sacrifice the things that are.

And contrary to how we might feel, the world will not come to an end if we're not there for the 5 pm meeting. Or we don't bake cookies for the church bake sale. Or we pick up takeout instead of cooking dinner.


You can say No for any number of reasons. But there are times when I believe No is the only reasonable answer. Here they are...


1) What you're being asked to do is someone else's responsibility.


Once we take something on that's someone else's responsibility, he/she is much more likely to ask for help with again -- and we end up inadvertently teaching him/her to rely on us.


It's a nice gesture to do your son's laundry when he's home from college, but wouldn't you rather he learn to take responsibility for it himself?


And if your sister relies on you to buy Christmas presents for all your siblings, you better believe she'll want it to become a tradition!


2) There's something more important for you to do.


Have you ever heard the expression "give up the good to go for the great?" You may be asked to do something worthwhile. But, just because something's good, it doesn't mean it's the best use of your time.


For example, last Christmas, I felt bad for missing my parents' annual Supper Club party. My Mom really relies on my sister and me to help. But, this time, it was more important for me to go to my goddaughter's engagement party. She'll only get engaged once (hopefully!), but my parents will have their party again this year.


3) It's something you really don't want to do.*


If you really don't want to do what you're being asked, you'll be miserable doing it. And you may resent the person doing the asking.


Once, against my better judgment, I started working with a client who wasn't a good fit. She was a perfectly lovely person, but I wasn't the right coach for her. Our personalities didn't mesh well. We both got frustrated with each other. If I'd followed my intuition, we would've saved ourselves from a couple of tension-filled sessions.


*One exception: Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and do things at work -- or home -- that we hate.


4) You feel you're being taken for granted.


In my experience, if you feel like you're being taken for granted, you probably are! You deserve to be appreciated for your contributions. It's ok to turn down a request from someone who doesn't value your efforts or show respect for your contributions.


5) You really need some time to yourself.


Most of us probably don't get enough time to ourselves. Sometimes it can't be helped, but all too often, we want to help others to our own detriment.


If you're exhausted and/or frazzled, you're probably not the best person to handle the task, anyway. And, the good news is, if you take time for yourself, you'll have renewed energy to be of service to others later.


Next time someone asks you to do something, stop and consider this list. If what they want you to do fits the criteria on this list, just say No!


And drop me a message to let me know you were successful.


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