Ever get into one of these predicaments? How do you handle it?
The school calls. The person calling apologizes, but the parent who was supposed to make 100 cupcakes for tomorrow is ill. Could you please take her place? What do you do?
- Nicely ask your monkeys to get in their cage and give them a toy to play with?
- Say no, sorry, I’m too busy but maybe next time, then spend the evening feeling guilty, even though you have a report that needs to go to your boss in the morning?
- Say yes, feel totally overwhelmed, rush to get the report done while you bake and frost 100 cupcakes that you now have to drop off on your way to work and you haven’t even had time to sleep?
- Shove your monkeys in their cage, say dinner is burning and you have to go?
- Listen to your friend and file the information away in case
there might be more to the story?
- Add your take on what’s going on and gossip with your friend.
You can’t wait to call another friend to tell her/him?
- Tell your friend you really don’t want to talk about this and change the subject to something neutral, like making a fantastic dessert, or the awesome shoes you saw on sale in your favorite department store?
You’re on the baseball food stand roster for your 5th grader. The game is in two days and the roster coördinator calls frantically, asking if you can pitch in and take over for her in Saturday’s game? Oh, and by the way, the candy bars, soda and sandwiches are low.
Could you please go to Sam’s Club and get them? You can bill them to the baseball fund. Please be sure they are there and put away in time for the game. Do you:
- Immediately become frustrated that the chairman chooses to call you this late in the game, but put on your syrupy voice, and as you scowl, tell her “Of course, “I’d love to do it”, while you silently punch your thighs?
- Suggest another person on the panel who might have a little more time?
- Tell her your monkeys are ill and you really need to stay home with them because they might have monkey fever?
- Explain that you and your beloved have a getaway planned for the weekend, but if she really cannot find another person, you’ll pitch in, then break the bad news to your spouse and feel extremely guilty?
Your boss comes into your office at quitting time. He wants a team of managers to stay late and confer about some problems with staff and make some changes. You’re supposed to meet your friends at a restaurant across town in an hour. You have just enough time to swing by the house and change. You’re on salary. Do you:
- Tell your boss to get a life?
- Tell your boss YOU have a life?
- Tell the boss you have to get home to take your monkeys outside because you don’t want them to pee all over the carpet and destroy the house. After all, you’ve already worked 9 hours without a break.
- Say “what room are we meeting in?” make a hurried call to your friends saying you won’t be able to meet them, feel guilty about that and hope your monkeys behave?
Let’s look at the ramifications of each.
In situation one, you know you can’t possibly get 100 cupcakes done and at the school tomorrow unless you stay up all night and drop them off on your way to work and leave for work right after you drop them off. What would happen if you said NO, not this time, but you can count on me for another occasion, as long as I have enough time to make those little critters?
And the third predicament. Why don’t you say NO, I can’t do that on such short notice but you can count on me for another time. I have a work project that needs to go to my boss in the morning. As long as I get fair warning there’s no problem.
And situation four involves your boss.
Your boss just gave you a raise so you feel obligated. Do you worry that if you say no he’ll fire you on the spot? (You’ve just received a superior evaluation and got a nice bonus along with it).
I have a very dear friend I met in Mazatlan and she phoned me the other day. Imagine my delight when I heard her voice. We chatted about the hot weather and sunshine there and the snow here. She’s from Canada so knows all about cold weather. As we talked and caught up she mentioned that she had taken a part-time job she’ll be able to do on the Internet as she and her husband travel. She is excited about it and I’m happy for her. She’s been writing a book and I asked how that was coming along. She told me she shelved the project about six months ago because it was just not coming together and she had spent a lot of time worrying about it. I remarked that in therapy I have talked about the fact that I always feel guilty saying NO, so I put my personal life on hold and give the other person what they need or want. Then I feel overwhelmed and anxious because I’m not able the work done I need to do. My friend hesitated for just a second. Then she said something that has had me laughing (and thinking) a lot this week.
Her remark? Wait for it…………..
“Not my Monkeys, Not my Circus”
“Hmm,” I thought. Not my monkeys? Not my circus? Of course I think I’m a bit of a circus expert because my books are about a circus performer. I already have a circus. Do I really need another one? And, why in the world would I want monkeys at home anyway?
Take a deep breath. Isn’t it easier to say no than give your life up for someone else’s problem? What’s the worst that can happen? Even if it were a close friend, wouldn’t you rather be truthful? If you say no, won’t you breathe a sigh of relief and get those monkeys off your back? I’m not talking here about things you want to do because you have time set aside, rather expectations that come at you out of nowhere that you don’t have time for or want to do.
Of course, you don’t have to say “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, as you firmly and politely say no, but you sure can laugh inside as the monkeys are jumping for joy. Think about this the next time you are called upon to do something you really don’t want to do. Just say no. You don’t have to make excuses. It’s your life and it’s in your hands. You have to stand up for yourself. No one else is going to. Oh, and give the monkeys a banana. It’s not their fault!
For a good article on saying NO, read this report at Mayo Clinic.
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