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Sunday, May 27, 2007
Stepping into NO: The Basics

There are five basic steps to keep in mind to hone your ability to turn people down. As soon as you begin to apply them, you will start to feel justified saying NO and you will see results. You won't be able to say No to everything asked of you, nor will you want to, but you don't have to be an ever-accommodating Yes-person to be loved, respected and admired.

1. Make a list of your Yeses over the period of week.
If you are inveterate- Yes-person, the number will shock you. The acceptable number will be different for everyone. One request could send you into a tailspin, while it might take four or more to set off someone else. The real gauge is how pressure, tight for time, or recently you feel. Any negative reaction - Why did I agree? What was I thinking? What am I doing? I don't want to be available, I would rather be elsewhere - is the true measure.

2. Pay attention to how you parcel out your time.
If most of your time is monopolized assisting one friend, when will you see other friends? If family or job demands are high, what's left over for your own enjoyment? When your time is well managed, you'll keep some in reserve for what's most important to you.

3. Get your priorities straight.
Who has first crack at you without your feeling burdened or anxious? A child? A boyfriend? A girlfriend? A spouse? A boss?

4. Know your limits - start to define them if you don't.
They can be emotional or physical or both, but there's a point at which your line is crossed. How much of other people's problems can you tolerate without feeling drained? How long are you willing to put up with one-way friendships with you always on the giving end? Because you're not a trained therapist, decide how personal you're willing to be and what kind of requests make you uncomfortable. On the physical side, when does your stamina give out? What requests are too taxing? To stay healthy your body and mind require rest to rejuvenate, and if you don't set limits you won't get it.

5. Give control to others to ease responsibilities.
When you don't trust others to be in charge or to get things accomplished, you wind up agreeing to and doing far more than your share of what someone else could be doing. Eliminating the need to run things yourself to be sure they turn out the way you like them relieves much of the pressure you put on yourself.

Rarely is a request as straightforward as it appears, and many of the difficulties you'll face in responding are complicated - at least it feels that way. You could fear damaging a friendship, hurting a parent's feelings, disappointing a boss, having a child say, "I hate you". Yet the more often you refuse, the more quickly you'll learn that the fallout is less extreme than you imagine. Once you accept these realities, the easier it is to say NO.

A word of caution: Do not gild your NO with a lie or pad it with lame excuses. That's counterproductive because in all likelihood you will feel guilty about your fabrications and that's precisely what you are trying to avoid.

(Source: "The Book of NO" and Stop People-Pleasing Forever" by Susan Newman, Ph.D.)
posted by infraternam meam @ 5:24 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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