We are so often put in the position to give a quick answer to the question, “Will you do …?”
Often, we say “Yes” and then everything in us is screaming that we should have said “No.”
So how do we maneuver this minefield?
Here are 5 practical practices that may help. I discovered them while nurturing my retail career steeped in customer service as well as in ministry, both as a lay leader and as the wife of a pastor.
- It is beneficial to know that it is not your job to make everyone happy. It is beneficial to bring understanding when we can. So whether we say YES or we say NO remember that you can’t make everyone happy, but you can strive to make some understand.
- Setting healthy boundaries with your time and resources is important. One YES may mean many NO’s. Qualify what you invest your time and resources into, don’t just spend them.
- Determine where your gifts and abilities are best used. When you answer to your sweet spot you are energized. When you just fill a need, you may feel depleted and discouraged before you even get started. Filling needs may also keep someone from stepping into their sweet spot. Be patient and see who turns up.
- Delay your answer. Saying I will get back to you after checking out the details allows time to process requests and check with those that will be affected by your answer. A well-timed YES or NO is a gift to those asking.
- Whether your answer is YES or NO, make it time oriented. If it is YES, determine a time frame of commitment. It is wise to allow for a trial period or a reevaluation after a determined period of time. If your answer is NO, perhaps at another time or circumstance the answer will be YES. Determine a time period that you will reintroduce the idea.
Our brain knows that people-pleasing is the fastest route to failure and disappointment. But our heart has a very strong emotional pull because we love to have people pleased with us. We can still be pleasing to those around us without the pressure of “people pleasing.”
One simple twist in perspective to help take the sting out of saying no is to think of “not saying yes” rather than “saying no.” “No” has such a strong negative feel to us that if we train ourselves to know that we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity presented, it somehow makes it easier to voice.
Saying yes to everything is a habit we have formed along the pathway of life. It takes some time to break that habit. This new year is a wonderful time to break unhealthy habits and replace them with habits that are healthy, that feed us and not drain us. We become better people, living in our passions and not out of guilt.
Take the time to read in the Gospels how Jesus responded to people around Him. His answers did not always result in happy people but He responded to bring understanding.