Learn to Say No – From TSOD R&D
Recently my wife was asked to help out as a volunteer in an organization she and I are associated with. After some thought she
concluded she just did not have the time nor was she inclined to do what was being asked. When she came to me with her concerns I offered her my (always) sage advice: Just tell them you don’t want to.
Tell them you don’t want to.
Those words are rarely used when refusing a request: “I don’t want to.” We’d rather eat sand. “I can’t” sounds a lot better. “I can’t” says it’s out of our control but we would if only we “could.” What we really mean many times is “I won’t” or “I don’t want to.”
When I was younger I spent a few weeks with my brother who rented a room near where he was attending school. Being young (and thoughtless) I didn’t appreciate staying there at no charge by the woman who owned the house. One day she told me to wash the dishes. I asked her why she didn’t wash them – though I hope I was a bit more diplomatic.
“Because I don’t want to, ” she said. She wasn’t angry. She was matter-of-fact. She didn’t want to do the dishes and whether she intended to or not she reminded me that I was staying there on her dime. Yes, I was a bit miffed but I did the dishes and got over it.
Saying we don’t want to do something is difficult. We want to be thought of as helpful but the truth is we do need some time for ourselves. That means we will not always be the people we’d like others to think we are. Like all other changes in our lives it’ll take practice to get this right. And another upside is we’ll train others to accept and respect the new phrase: “I don’t want to.”