Knowing Your No (When & How to Say It)
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You’ve just dotted the last “i” on your weekly calendar. The ritual is a familiar one. You learned a long time ago that if you don’t take ten minutes to think through the next seven days’ worth of 10,080 minutes there is no way you’ll get it all done.
And then it happens, the phone pings and your bestie shoots you a text.
“I’m in a bind! Can you cover for me this Wednesday?”
If you’re like me, you say yes despite the fact that the commitment you just made will break the back of your already overloaded schedule.
Knowing when to say no can be tricky business. Finding a way to say it can be just as hard. I’ve learned a catch-all phrase that works beautifully for when “no” is a must and I’ll get to that in a sec’. But first, there are two questions we can ask ourselves if we suspect a no response from us is peeking over the horizon.
Question #1- Is this a need that someone else can fill?
When the third-grade teacher is looking for two dozen brownies I know that I am not the only one who is able to bake (* ahem, buy) them.
However, when a dear friend is grieving and needs someone to talk to, the history she and I share may make me one of the few people who can bring her comfort. The brownies I can say no too. My grieving friend? Not so much.
Question #2 – Is saying yes my best yes?
There are a million and one GOOD things we could all say yes too. The better question than would be, “Is this my best yes?”
Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes is a must read for when we’re trying to discern the difference between, good, better and best. The bottom line? When we say no to one thing it allows us to say yes to another. When I remember that some “no’s” are what enable me to honor a “best yes” it’s easier for me to say no.
These two filters can help us decide when and if we need to say no. When we determine that no is our “best yes” all we have left to do is figure out how to say it. Henry Cloud and John Townsend share a phrase in their book Boundaries that I’ve used repeatedly.
That doesn’t work for me.
The first time I read that I thought, “That’s not so hard.” And guess what? It works for virtually any situation. The good news is that we don’t need to tag on an excuse or explanation. We can kindly, but clearly communicate that fill-in-the-blank doesn’t work.
You may be like my sis. She’s good at knowing when she can and can’t say yes. Consequently “no” is less of a problem for her.
But if, like me, you have a dot of a hero complex and when you don’t think you’re supposed to be saving the world your trying to clean it, decorate it, or serve it a pan of brownies, then I pray these pointers help you know your no as well as how to say it!
Savoring the journey with you,
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