Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Power of No

My kids have perfected the word no.

"Please get dressed?" No. "Share with your sister!" No. "Are you listening to me?" No. Sometimes I think it is the only word they can say. I,on the other hand, have some serious trouble saying No. I'm not talking about to my kids, that seems to come frighteningly easy. I'm talking about to other people.

I already have 3 kids you want me to watch yours? "No problem." And bake your neighbor a pie? "Sure.What flavor? What did you say?" While hopping on one foot with a crying baby in one arm and 2 screaming kids hanging onto each leg? "You can count on me, I'll get it done."

I'm not talking about saying "No" to good friends or family who ask when they need something, but to those people who ask, who take advantage and who think that because I'm a stay at home mom, I have nothing to do except take care of my kids, their kids,and every one's strays.

I don't know if I think it's not an acceptable response or I don't want to hurt their feelings but I could definitely practice the power of no.I'm not sure why the hurting someone's feelings comes into play, that should be tossed out the window when you have children or you'll get walked on, stepped on, starred at in public, frustrated overwhelmed and blood pressure through the roof.

I'm going to start practicing the power of saying "No". Looking for tips I found an article on Self Growth.com entitled, The Power of Saying No, by Linda Tillman, PhD. Perfect. At the end of the article Tillman gives her tips on saying "No":

1. When someone makes a request, it is always OK to *ASK FOR TIME TO THINK IT OVER*. Remind yourself that the decision is entirely up to you. (That is a good one, especially when you feel put on the spot and you have to answer right then and there.)

2. Use your nonverbal assertiveness to underline the "No." Make sure that your voice is firm and direct. Look into the person's eyes as you say, "No." Shake your head "No," as you say, "No."...(Seems a bit like speaking to my child)

3. Remember that "No," is an honorable response. If you decide that "No," is the answer that you prefer to give, then it is authentic and honest for you to say, "No."

4. If you say, "Yes," when you want to say, "No," you will feel resentful throughout whatever you agreed to do. This costs you energy and discomfort and is not necessary if you just say, "No" when you need to.
 (I have felt resent over saying yes many times.)

5. If you are saying, "No," to someone whom you would help under different circumstances, use an empathic response to ease the rejection. For example, to your friend who needs you to keep her child while she goes to the doctor, you might say, "No, Susie, I can't keep Billie for you. I know it must be hard for you to find someone at that time of day, but I have already made lunch plans and I won't be able to help you.

6. Start your sentence with the word, "No." It's easier to keep the commitment to say.

It's not that I want to become like Jim Carey in the Yes, Man, except always saying No. But I'd like to be able to say "No" to more things. Sometimes, I'd like to take myself into consideration first when giving in answer instead of taking into consideration the person asking the question. 

Not to be totally selfish, but that's somewhat the point right?

Today I practiced the power of saying"No. I said "No" to a telemarketer calling to get me to participate in a survey. This past weekend I said, "No" to Jehovah Witnesses who, again, came to my door even after politely listening and turning them down about a dozen times before. And I said "No" to the salesperson at the mall wanting to spray me with some stinky perfume. 

And of course, there were the repetitive "No"s to my 3 year old when she jumped off, "No" to my son who wanted to use the computer, when I wanted to use it, and "No" to my 9 month old who went to grab and chew on the electrical cord, for obvious reasons. 

Alright...it's the children, and I'd say "No" anyway, but I've got to start somewhere right?

What or who do you wish you could say "No" to?


  1. Since becoming a mother, the word "no" is part of my everyday life. I've learned for the best interest of the world around me, I have to pick and choose battles and commitments. I find there is no point in trying to please everyone around me when I feel like my own life is falling apart. It's difficult but a must to survive with the kids and life in general.

  2. I wish I could say that I don't know how to say no, but I do know how to say it. If something does not please me I will say no straight away. I hope it will be straight forward when I have kids.

    Happy Tuesday.

  3. I think I am pretty good at saying no...just not to my 22 month - which is a problem at times. I think he thinks I'm a joke (already).

    Good Luck with the "NO"

    I totally agree with MamaONDaGo!

  4. You could have been a fly on the wall in my house with your italicized scenario above. I bite off more than I can chew all.of.the.time! And I do resent being taken advantage of, but can I really call it that when I have a choice in the matter and choose to say "yes"? One of my recent instructors told us how her kids knew that "no" coming from her mouth meant "no" period. Wish I could say the same. My "no" means, "I don't really wanna, but if you ask me a couple of more times I will cave and do it." I know all about how telemarketers or salespersons understand that a customer will say no 3 times before they say yes. This is why the are taught the various rebuttals. I have learned to say no to "try-it-free-for-30-days" type deals b/c I always forget to cancel or wind up paying something out of pocket anyway. I like those tips, but they still don't make me feel very confident about saying a firm "NO" to stuff I really don't want to do but will if someone needs something done. Hopefully, we can learn to be assertive with the "n-word" together!


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