I was talking with a client this past week about that very essential survival skill of saying "NO." It's just a tiny, two letter utterance, and for many of us it feels about as awful as gargling fire. We expect devastation, ruin and the need for rescue people to be summoned in our NO's wicked aftermath.
The trouble with saying no is that it most usually invites a lot more conversation, cajoling, sometimes whining, often conflict. And as introverts, we'll take collaboration, harmony, being off-stage any day of the week. It's so much easier to say yes, and be done it. Or, the alternative, which is to tell a big fat fib. And, then you have to make sure you remember it, in case there is, uh, follow-up about that alleged sherpa gig you pulled all summer. Which is why you couldn't join the rowing team.
Dawg, I hate the big fat fib stuff! Even though I have a great imagination, and could think of a gatrillion reasons that I can't do something. (Call me if you need some fresh material) But I just can't stomach the guilt that comes with it. Nor should I have to! I feel quite certain that I've spent the equivalent of an entire decade at events I don't want to be at, faking a lively interest. In my head, I'm picturing myself home alone with a book, a cat, and bucket of diet coke.
This next year for my birthday, I'm going to make this really cool party invitation where I ask everyone to stay home alone, without any talking, no electronics, and be quiet for three hours. (Gifts could be mailed to me.) 'Cos that's my idea of a fun time. And, it's so way past my turn--
Before writing and publication, I could get away with blowing my wad on things I didn't want to do, and the mandatory recovery period afterwards. So what if my spirit felt sucked dry-- I'd just sleep an extra two or three hours. Now, if I've got that kind of extra time, I need to be
It has turned into a simple math problem. I don't have enough minutes left in life to do things that don't serve my life purpose-- which is to be a good partner to my sidekick, write for kids, be a decent coach, and have lunch with Anne Lamott. That's all I can focus on. (Okay, there are seven other things, but you get my drift.)
Thing is, I'm actually an expert at saying no. Pretty much have a black belt in it. So do you! Every single time we say yes to something we don't want to do, we are saying an unequivocal NO to ourselves. NO to what we might have preferred to do. NO to what works better for us. NO to what we know we need to move our project or situation forward. NO to who we are as introverts.
This very succinct little word sets a good model for explanation. Be brief. "No thanks." "Sorry, I can't." "No, I've got other plans." Y ou really don't need to explain yourself more than that. Any more than the extravert would be expected to explain why the heck they need a lot of people coming over to their house on Friday night after being with people all day at work. A brief regret, wish them a good time, and change the subject.
Be very, very pleased with yourself. Swallow the scary aftertaste of the NO you just delivered, and focus on the big, juicy YES you just gave yourself. Strong work!
Now, this is where things get tricky. Having just empowered you all to let the N-word rip, now I've got to ask you to do something. Talk about your terrible timing! :-> But here I go anyway.
Please DO keep the responses coming about your favorite indies. In case you missed Monday's post, we'd love it if you'd send us the name/website/address of your favorite independent bookstore. We are getting ready to celebrate them. Thanks to all of you that have responded on and off-line. More, por favor!