Why is saying no so damn hard? Every time I do it, die a little inside.
Why? Because I want people to like me. I genuinely don’t care what people think of me most of the time but I like to be a decent enough person so that if someone decides they think I’m awful (happens often) and they bitch about me to someone else, I want most people to be shocked. Like ‘You hate Carly? Really? What did she do?’. I’m super fine with people not liking me but I really want them to question the reason why. It’s the same with people who don’t like chocolate. It’s not chocolate’s fault, those people are just weird. Chocolate is amazing. Everyone likes chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate there’s something wrong with you, not chocolate. So if I just say yes to people and try to please everyone, if someone hates me, that’s their problem and good luck trying to explain why. Because I’m Carly. I say yes to most things and most people don’t think I’m garbage. #winning
If you’re a people pleaser like me, you’ll probably say yes a lot more than you’d like to. Because saying yes is great. It makes people like you and it makes you feel great.
However saying yes will have you spending your entire weekend helping someone move house when you really don’t have that time to spare. Saying yes will see you sitting at a baby shower of a work colleague you barely know on a Sunday afternoon when you’d much rather be lying on the couch and watching Game of Thrones. Or doing almost anything else.
Unfortunately you sometimes do have to do these things because it’s what a being a functioning part of society is. Yes you do have to invite that work colleague who you don’t like that much to casual Friday drinks because that’s the nice (and decent) thing to do. No you don’t have to let your second cousin bring her kids to your child free wedding. It’s child free. Der.
There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to say no to things. It’s just a part of life. You have to occasionally do things you don’t want to do – especially if you want people to do things they don’t want to do for you. It’s the circle of obligation and our society would crumble without it.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to be a social slave to everyone you know. If you’re having trouble saying no to things, here are a few things that might help you out.
I’ve only got a handful of friends I do big ticket favours for like airport pickups, house moves and dog sitting and if anyone outside that circle tries to get in the circle, I lie and say I’m too busy. Luckily I’m away a lot so I don’t have lie that often but it definitely happens. I’d rather lie and say I can’t meet something for a drink because I have a prior engagement rather than tell them I just don’t want to. Who says that? I’m generally against any kind of deceit but if you need to have an evening at home and you don’t want to hurt your mates feelings, a well placed lie can really help. Just don’t lie and say you’re going out for dinner with your parents and then snap chat your slippered feet next to a pizza box with your 7th episode of The Mindy Project on in the background. That would be a dead giveaway.
2. Don’t say maybe
‘Are you free on Saturday?’ is really easy question to answer. You either are or you aren’t and if you’re fluffing around with maybes, most of the time, what you’re really saying to that person that you want to be left open for a better offer. Either commit, or walk away and never treat people like back ups. If there’s extenuating circumstances like you’re going to watch a football game and you’re not sure when it will end – that’s fine. But if you’re waiting for your cooler friends to organise something, you need to say no to anyone else who’s trying to organise something with you.
3. Don’t ask if you’re free on Saturday night when you’re inviting someone to do something awful
You can only ask that question if it’s something fun. You can’t be like ‘Are you free Saturday night?’ and then when the person says yes you say ‘Yay! I’m re-grouting my bathroom’. That’s a dick move. Never try to get people to commit to things they don’t realise they’re committing to. If someone asks me if I’m free on Saturday, with no explanation I will always respond with ‘Why?’. That way I don’t getting stuck all afternoon with my mates out of town town family shopping at DFO. Not my ideal way to spend a Saturday.
Here’s some extra reading on the topic I’ve written over the years…