Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Power of Saying 'No'

First of all, we would like to apologize for our blogging hiatus! We've continued to have a steady amount of readers over the last few months and others who have contacted us regarding questions about child life. And for that we are grateful! 

That being said, our goal is to get back on it over the next few weeks and maybe even launch a new blog design to celebrate a year of blogging for us! 

I hope you have been enjoying your summer whether you are taking classes, completing an internship, starting your first job, or taking the summer off! I have just the month of June off from classes, and in all honesty I have been indulging in many days by the pool. I have also spent a lot of time reading books just for fun. The latest book I have been reading is called "The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.

As a Type A busybody, I have struggled in the past about saying "No" to people, which usually leads me to feel overwhelmed, stretched thin, and not giving my commitments my best. So when I saw this book at the book store last week, I picked it up instantly. While still only halfway through it, I have gained some valuable takeaways about the decision making process. The concept of the "Best Yes" comes from the fact that even though we might be able to say "Yes" to a particular request, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is our best yes. 

Just in case you were interested, some of the titles of the chapters include:

  • Check the Third Box
  • Overwhelmed Scheduled, Underwhelmed Soul
  • Sometimes I Make It All So Complicated
  • Chase Down that Decision
  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Managing Demands Means Understanding Expectations 
  • The Power of the Small No
  • But What if I Say No and They Stop Liking Me? 
  • The Thrill of an Unrushed Yes
  • The Very Best Yes
  • When My Best Yes Doesn't Yield What I Expect
  • We Make Choices. Then Our Choices Make Us
I just finished reading the chapter called The Power of the Small No. Boy, that was a hard chapter to read. I hate to say the word no. I feel like people expect me to say yes whether it is giving someone a ride or heading up that big project. But this book really challenged my perspective on saying no. Some people choose to delay saying no. Delaying a response can actually do more harm than good. "(A) It builds their hopes that our answer will be a yes. (B) It prevents them from making other plans. (C) It makes an eventual no much harder to receive." 

I had never thought about that. If I would just exercise my right to say "no" in the first place, it would save me so much heart ache later. 

Another concept from the chapter is how we use our "no." "We can't use our "no" answers as wands to wish away our responsibility. Nor can we use our "no" answers as weapons." Some people just say no to everything. Or maybe they say no to picking up that extra shift at work or being on that committee in your student organization. People like that frustrate me because instead of taking on responsibility, they just say no to all of it. But I am just as much at fault because I say yes to all of it. Where is the balance? 

The biggest take home of the chapter was, "While my heart wants to say yes, the reality of my time makes this a no." Another response could be, "I'm sorry but I can't give it the attention it deserves." We need to evaluate each request and weigh the expectations that come from each. We need to evaluate the available time, energy, resources, etc that we have to offer each request. If my calendar says no, then my mouth needs to say no. By acknowledging that the request requires attention, and you feel that you cannot give it adequate attention, you empower the person to seek out someone who may be able to offer a Best Yes to that request. It becomes a win-win for all those involved. 

A time that comes to mind to me is from my senior year of college. As a junior, I had been serving as the President of the Child Life Organization at my University, and I loved it. I put a lot of my time, energy, and resources into this organization. The time came for us to elect new officers, and we didn't have an eligible candidate for President elect. Everyone was trying to convince me to stay on another semester until an eligible candidate was ready. However, that semester would be the one that I was applying for internships, driving 4 hours a week to get to and from a 4 hour practicum, teaching a Bible Study, working a part time job, writing my honors thesis, and trying to maintain my sanity. Saying "yes" to staying as President would not have been a good idea for me because I would not have been able to give the Organization the attention it deserved. This was one of the hardest "no" moments I've had (even though now it seems so small). 

I say all of this to ask you, do you feel overwhelmed? Are you drowning in commitments with work, school, home? Do you have children who are fighting for your time and energy? Do you have a demanding job that sucks your energy away? Are you trying to survive your internship while doing assignments for school and internship and job searching at the same time? Sometimes there are things we can't say no to, while others we can, such as going out on Friday night or starting that new Netflix TV show. Maybe you have to miss a family vacation or you turn down a friend's offer because you just can't give it the attention you deserve. 

Step back today and evaluate your life. What is important to you? What do you want your time committed to? Are you over extended? What do you need to do to take care of you? You are the most important person in your life. Take care of your self. Embrace the ability and the power to say "No" today. 



Ashley said...

I love this book! I recently received the book from a child life specialist during my practicum, and it has really helped me through my child life journey so far.