So, I have received three requests in the past 2 weeks to speak for free. I often will speak for free if it’s a cause I believe in, if it’s in Montreal, if I’m helping out a friend, yada yada yada. And I speak for free at different times because I simply love connecting with the women at these conferences and sharing my strategies and tactics. To walk through the audience at the end and hear the issues and help get these women on their feet right then and there, is a wonderful feeling. Yes, I love speaking.
So, back to “Erica, we’d love to have you as our keynote, but we don’t have the budget to pay.”
The old me; “Of course I’ll do it!” I’m the pleaser. I’m the Yes Girl.
The new me, “No thank you, not right now. While I greatly appreciate you thinking of me, you can understand that this is how I make my living, and if I accepted every free speaking engagement, I would simply never see my children. I am so sorry, I cannot take unpaid work at this moment.”
BOOM. JUST LIKE THAT.
And then I finally breathe after I hang up the phone. And I’m not sure if I feel like shit for saying no, or if I feel proud of myself for saying no. Definitely an ‘on the fence’ thing.
Perhaps you can relate to automatically saying “yes” to someone or something when you really wanted to say “no.” I volunteer where I can. I do it with a smile because this community supported me many years back when I started my first business. And I truly believe in giving back. I come alive by giving back. But, becoming a human pretzel is just not where I’m at anymore. I have come to learn when I’ve reached my threshold, my saturation point. When I start to get short-tempered with my loved ones, that’s my cue to ease off. We all know our breaking points, or at least we think we do. It’s that last thing we agree to take on, that is going to make us collapse like a house of cards.
So, I decided my new motto is, “not right now.” And it’s a skill, I tell you. It doesn’t feel great to say no. Our egos are attached to the yes, and so saying no, and letting go is difficult. It’s definitely a process I’m getting better at.
And when I say, “no thank you, not right now, ” it doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in a couple of weeks, months, or next year. It means for today. And when I keep the door open, I feel good about that. Harriet Goldhor Lerner says “SAYING NO TO SOMEONE ELSE, IS SAYING YES TO YOURSELF.” Just let that soak in. It’s really true. Saying no to someone else, means saying yes to yourself. It means freeing yourself up to do more of the things you love… read a book, go for a walk, take a painting class, take up ballroom dancing. Whatever.
As working women, as single moms, as wives, as friends, we’re asked and pulled every day in a thousand directions.”Do you think you can do my carpool?” or “Do you think you can stay late tonight at the office to get some extra filing done?” and “Do you think you can just drop off my dry cleaning?” I’m not saying we all don’t have responsibilities we are unable to escape in our daily lives. All I’m saying is, if you feel like your plate is full, it ain’t the time to pack more on it. And saying no takes practice. Saying no to friends, no to husbands, no to charities, no to someone asking you for a loan, no to a bothersome person, no to an incredible opportunity because now just may not be the ideal time for you.
So, if you feel you’re becoming the human pretzel, just a word or two below. (Now I would like to reiterate, I am not saying you should be selfish and never help people out. However, it’s just that many of us are running around stressed out because we’re saying yes to everyone).
A few things about saying no…
- We have all been turned down in our lives. No’s are a part of everyday life. Johnny couldn’t come to your son’s birthday party, you were denied a favor, someone didn’t reciprocate your crush, it’s a part of life. So, did you die from it? Of course you survived it! Don’t assume you’re going to inflict serious harm by saying no to someone.
- Learn to accept no from those you love as well. “No’s” are just a reality. Take it all in stride. If you do, you’ll be more easily able to say no to others, which means YES to yourself.
- Stop being a pleaser. Saying no without any guilt is very common, but say it when you need to say it. To your children, to your spouse, to your boyfriend, to your girlfriend, to your boss. What’s your human pretzel threshold? Are you there yet?
- Don’t instinctively say yes. Think it out first. It’s okay to not answer on the spot. How about something like, “can I think about it and get back to you?” If anything, you sound mature, professional, and if it really ends up being no, the “no” will sound like a much more thought-out no. And may I also note, you don’t have to be rude when you say no either. You should say it politely, thank you very much!
- Saying no truly does come with confidence. The more confident you are in your abilities, the easier time you will have to say no to people. It’s a work in progress.
- And finally, if you do say yes, and then you feel resentment, it means you SHOULD HAVE SAID NO!
So, say NO, and let it be guilt free… except in sex… I say “go for it!”
I’d love to know, do you have the disease to please? Are you the yes girl? Have you gotten better at saying no? How do you feel after you say to someone? I’d love to hear your thoughts…