Women are renowned for being able to multitask – but what happens when you just don’t say “no” when you should?
You work, keep the house ticking over, offer a listening ear to your friends when they need it,? help with your child’s school’s?events when you can get the time off work – and then you wonder why you feel stressed!? It can be very hard to say no to requests for help, but if you are to keep your sanity, then sometimes it’s necessary.
Being able to say “no” is a technique you can learn, along with being more assertive in all areas of your life.? Don’t? misunderstand- being assertive is not the same as being aggressive.?Often we say ” yes” because we feel we have been backed into a corner and can’t think of a way out.? If you are caught off guard with some request that you aren’t sure about, say: “I’d like to think about that and get back to you tomorrow…” or whenever.? That way, you give yourself space to decide on your terms whether you want to commit to something – or not.? You aren’t giving a definite no, but neither are you committing yourself to something you might well regret later.
We all say: “I just didn’t know how to get out of it”. ? Being assertive means you have the right to say “no”.? It also means you have the right not to give reasons, or apologise for your actions.? When someone asks if you can help out at the next PTA event and you are too busy, all you need say is, “I’d love to, but I can’t at the moment.”? You can always soften the blow by showing that you understand the other person’s situation.? “I know you are really hard pushed to find people to help, and I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t commit to that at the moment.”? If you feel you need to give a reason, then do so, but it is up to you- reasons are not essential.
Don’t forget that you can always negotiate too-you can offer half of what someone wants- so that means you both get something – whether it’s one hour on a stall instead of the whole morning or doing half the publicity that’s going begging.
The same applies to friends- we have all had, or got friends who ring up for a long chat when they are feeling down or have a problem – it’s great to be asked to help, but sometimes it just isn’t the right time.? Or you might have friends who do all the taking – and don’t lend an ear when you need one.?? If you have a friend whose conversations with you last for at least an hour- often when you least need them – take control. ? Have you thought of how to tackle the situation so it doesn’t offend anyone?? At the start of the conversation say something like, “I’d love to chat but I am pushed for time today- I can give you ten minutes and then maybe we can talk later in the week….”? It is far better to be honest than to sit seething, looking at your watch and wondering how to end the conversation.
Being assertive is about having self-respect,?it is about treating yourself in the same way that you’d treat others.?Often, the fear behind not being assertive is that you will lose friends or be seen as “difficult”.? In practise, the opposite is proably true- people will respect you more if you show that you have self-respect, and don’t always say “yes” just to try to keep everyone happy.
Changing behaviour patterns takes time and you might need to practise for weeks before you feel comfortable with it – but just do it!
Glynis Kozma Life Coach