The Art and Act of Saying No

September 19, 2007 — Leave a comment

Ã? KSL TVââ?¬â??Studio 5

It is the most effective time-saving strategy in the world, yet many of us, especially women, have a difficult time doing it: Saying “No!” Does that two-letter word ever get stuck in the back of your throat when yet another overwhelming obligation is requested of you? If your mind yells “No!” while your voice utters “Yes,” help is not far away.Women are taught more often than men to be nurturing and caring, and we want to please. The instinct to say “yes” usually comes from a genuinely good place – we want to help and we don’t want to hurt. For many of us, “yes” has simply become a habit and part of our daily discourse. We also want to avoid the consequence we think we’ll have to endure by denying a favor or request. The good news is the fallout is never as great as we fear.Say “Yes” to Saying “No”
We need to give ourselves permission to say “no” without excuses or guilt. Talk about freedom! We may think we’re earning points every time we concede but guess what? We lose. We become disappointed in ourselves, and feel burned-out, beat-up and run-over by others, whether that be by our children, other family members, neighbors, or employers. Sadly, then, we often end up resenting the very people we care the most about! We don’t do anyone any favors and we’d be better off sparing those relationships by saying, “No, thank you!” And keep in mind that we teach people how to treat us; we teach others that they can take advantage of us and, in turn, they disrespect us more for being able to do so.

Say “Yes” First to Priorities
In order to say “no” to something less important you have to first say “yes” to something of greater importance. Be very clear about your goals in life and for your family and career; and keep your calendar and the reality of how long it takes to do something convenient for you to access. Agree to excel at a few things rather than being average at many. It is relatively easy to say “no” when the favor doesn’t fit the form of your top priorities. Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?” Or, “How does this task fit into what I’m trying to achieve in the overall picture?”.

Say “No” to Teach & Show Love
When it comes to top priorities, parents have an especially difficult time saying “No” to their children. If a mother works and her time is limited it seems harder for her to set limits, often out of guilt.

Let’s not confuse permissiveness with love. Too much love won’t spoil a child but too few limits will! One particular survey of elementary school children found that when they want something new, most children expect their parents to give in after nine times of asking! They’re on to us! Overindulging children is a mental-health risk, leading them to self-centeredness and self-absorption. It’s imperative to teach children the value of hard work, delayed gratification, honesty, integrity and compassion. The only way to do this is with limits and the word “No.” Kids need to learn to overcome the hard knocks in life, whether that be learning to buy their own cosmetics, or having a daily list of household duties. Children need parents to care enough about them to not cave in. Children learn self-control by observing you~ how do you do with delaying gratification on your purchases? A child will rarely dislike a parent for saying “no” or enforcing rules. On the contrary, it makes them feel secured and lovedââ?¬Â¦no matter how they protest!

Say “Yes” With Boundaries
There are times when you just have to say “Yes” to something that you may not be that crazy about but, nonetheless, it is still important. When you must say “yes,” take control of the timetable, i.e., “I can have that for you by the end of next week!” Or, “Honey, I’ll be happy to pick-up your dry cleaning on Friday when I’ll be going out that way.” Be willing to put a condition on your agreement, as well. For instance, “If this will just take an hour, I’ll be happy to do that for you, however, I’m unable to give more than that at this time.”

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Dr. Liz Hale

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