If you are a I’d rather just say yes now, avoid a conflict, then stress about it, think up an excuse, agonize over what excuse to make, how to make it (text, call, email?) stress some more, finally send something, feel relieved, and then get caught out when you see that person next because you forgot you told them you were sick when you actually weren’t person then read on.
The best way to avoid being in a I really wanted to say no pickle: Stall. I’ll get back to you. I have to think about it for a bit. Do not be afraid to take the time you need to think about it. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of assertiveness. It’s a sign you treat yourself well. Remember, you are the only one who has your best interests at heart. Otherwise, everybody else would be a mind reader and that’d just be friggin’ scary.
I used to think I was expected to know at the drop of a hat, like, everything. But just because someone asks you a question you can’t or don’t want to answer, does not mean an immediate response is expected from your counterpart. I finally got that when I reversed the roles:
Me: Do you have any idea when your fabulous director is going to be available?
Fabulous producer: I will have to check his schedule. I’ll get back to you as soon as I know, okay?
Me: Sure, no problem. Do you have any idea when you’ll be getting back to me?
Fabulous producer: I’ll call you, okay?
Me: Should I call you tomorrow?
Fabulous producer: Fab director likes to take his time when making a creative decision. You want him to be happy with the decision he makes, don’t you?
Me: Of course! Well, then, hear from you soon I hope.
Okay, that’s annoying, but understandable. It’s kind of chronic these days to have an immediate response to everything. Just because you can convey the question faster than the speed of light, due to our constant onlineness, our brains still need time to process, to think. Making a decision is a creative process. Even small ones.
Being an inveterate “yes” person is horribly stressful. We feel bad if we say no. Why? I don’t know. And I thought I had it sussed, after reading countless advice columns about the art of saying no. I like simple solutions, so I figured one out for myself. If I am not sure, like 100 percent sure, then I say: I’ll get back to you. In fact, no matter how enthusiastic you are about something, you should always use that tactic. Because often, even something wonderful may not fit into your schedule or just not be the right thing to do at this moment in time.
There’s a whole lot of psychology involved in why we can’t say no straight away, especially if we tend to do it for the same offers. Like when I get asked to go out partying. I say yes, because I like the idea of going out to party. However when the date rolls around, I usually don’t feel like it. (Bad hair day, feel too fat, nothing to wear, there’s something on TV, blah, blah, blah.) Another reason why my initial enthusiastic yeses turn sour is because the moment I feel obligated, then I don’t want to. If I feel I have to do something, resistance starts to spread and the foot-stomp syndrome takes over.
See, I like spontaneous. I don’t like to plan. That pretty much covers my life. Call me now, ask me to get on the next plane to you name it, I’m on it. Call me to ask me if I want to go to a party in three weeks’ time, I’ll say yes. But when the day rolls around, I’ll not want to go.
Remember: I have to think about it. Decide. Then stick to your guns. No matter what decision you make, it’s another thread of experience woven into the intricate fabric of you and your relationship with your fellow humans.