I have a REALLY hard time saying “no” to certain types of requests. Is this a female thing? A Mom thing? An insecure thing?
For years, I’d say no, and then qualify the no, “ No, mother in law, I am not interested in going to the Opera with you, if I anything, I prefer ballet” But that just got me somehow obligated to accompany my mother in law to the ballet, so why did I say that!? How about just plain, no.
And in my work, the classic is, “do you have a minute?”. There are times when I should answer, “no, I do not”. But somehow, I feel that I always should have time for the agents I train and supervise. I mean what if they have some burning issue, and my lack of time and attention causes the burning issue to become and explosion (yes, real estate transactions can indeed have explosions). So today, for instance, I replied, “ No”, the agent made that “are you seriously telling me you don’t have time for me” face, so then I added, “unless it is important and quick”. Well I might as well have said “yes, I have time”, because to any of us, our issue is important, and in general we believe it can, or should be quick.
A place my inability to say no comes from is the little school girl. Remember her, wiggling in her desk with hand raised, hoping to be called on to give the answer? I was that girl, and so as an adult, if I know, or know where to find the answer, I’m game to answer the question. Am I proving myself? And if so, to whom? In my work, many agents in my office ask me all sorts of questions; many of which are based on information readily available to all of us and not something specific to my principal broker’s license or training. And how nice for them that, in most instances, I avidly answer the question or look it up for them. “Look how much I know”, I must be screaming.
So this leads me to think about how others say” no”, and how I and others receive “no”. Is there a polite way to say no, that isn’t an invitation to override the no? “No, I don’t want to go for a walk today, it is too rainy”. Can elicit the response , “ You can borrow my rain coat and umbrella, let’s go”. And do we issue different “no’s “ to different people; pushy people get the firm “no”, whereby sensitive people get the softer qualified “no”?
What I do know is that I need to say “no”, really “no”, more often. For folks who know me, hearing me issue a flat, unqualified, unapologetic “no”, will be a shock. Get ready…