December 09, 2013

This Holiday Season Just Say "NO"

It’s the holidays – the hardest time to say no to that seductive carrot cake at a cocktail party or perhaps that carrot-topped relative who is demanding you do tasks that deep inside you don’t feel you want to do. We all face bullies in our lives, sometimes in the form of relatives, bosses, and co-workers. To these people we need to learn to say 'no' tactfully, graciously, and without offense.
Jill Brooke, author of The Need to Say "No", offers these tips to resist temptations as well as taunts that undermine your  peace and happiness.

It is OK to say "NO". The word no is baked into the word kNOwledge.  Assess a value system to everything about how much time it requires whether it’s a task outside of your job description or that chocolate éclair that requires an extra hour at the gym to work off. “No, not now but perhaps later”  is a perfectly fine response. Time is not limitless so you won’t be robbed of the opportunity then to focus on perfecting your performance as well as having time for the people you care about.
Identify, set and hold to your boundaries.  Whether a relative or friend is bossing you around to create holiday parties or hosting doddering Dad for the week since “you’re so good at it”, bullies target empathetic people but don’t let yourself get used. “ Have boundaries of what you are comfortable doing and not doing. As long as you say your 'no' confidently and calmly, you will get results. Bullies then move on and target other people.
Assert your position, don't try to change theirs.  For example, a colleague is suggesting a project that you see as futile and unproductive or you hear someone gossiping and wanting you to join in.  You can say “I see your position. I understand that is the way you are thinking. But no, I am not comfortable doing that.” Or , "I think we will have to agree to disagree on that position."
Say "NO" kindly and mean it.  You can say no without a future yes. For example,  a friend or relative calls asking for yet another favor in your jam-packed holiday schedule. “Because I am a perfectionist, I want to always do a good job. No, I can’t commit to another project at this time but maybe later”, might be your response. Or you can say, "No, I can't at this time. Good luck with it. " In this way, a value system has been established so your work and involvement becomes meaningful.

Understand that saying "NO" is a healthy decision. "No" is a choice not a scolding. Say it with a smile in a calm voice that won't invite debate. "No, that doesn't work for me" is not selfish but the construction of  a protective shield against the onslaught of countless requests that truly undermine our ability to focus on what is important such as meaningful friends, family and work.

For more on the power of saying "NO", read Jill Brooke's new book, The Need to Say "No".