My Path to ‘Saying yes and no’
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chris. For those of you who do… my name is still Chris. Before getting started, here is a snapshot of myself. I am a 25-year-old who has recently graduated from his masters at Cambridge. I adore long walks, board games, deep conversations and being generally creative. I had three gap years (yep, you read that right, THREE!) I have a physics brain but studied theology and I hope that my friends would descirbe me as whole hearted, although that doesn’t detract from my many faults.
Another particularly relevant characteristic you should know about me is that when it comes to work, I love saying yes. (It’s the people pleaser in me.) If you have ever watched the Jim Carey movie, ‘Yes Man’, – the main character, Carl, says no to everything to begin with – well, I was the anti-Carl. This can complicate things when it comes to time management, as I wanted to say yes to every event, social gathering, summer camp and phone call but, sadly, it is not possible to bi-locate at will (at least I don’t think it is!). To manage this compulsive ‘yes’ that came out of my mouth, I used to get everything done in an efficient and timely way so that I could balance work and social time. WRONG! That was a lie. Instead… I used to hide. I used to say yes to as many possible activities as possible, burnout and then try to avoid being asked to do anything by hiding. Now I am a little better… instead I say ‘Maybe’ or ‘I’ll think about it’ and don’t follow up. A very polite, very British, ‘no’ – which essentially is still hiding or rather avoiding the question.
Instead of treating my calendar as a plan which I use to regiment my life, I now plan significant parts of my day, and then update my calendar to reflect how I actually used my time that day.
So here is the first post blog post and it is about how to get around to saying ‘no’ to people with legitimate reasoning, and, therefore, hopefully, guilt-free. One of the difficult things I found in saying yes or no to demands on my time, was not knowing if I would have enough time to give. Consequently, I would say yes to everything and then let people know when I have a clash of events. However, in hindsight one of the tools, or rather habits, I have taken up while interning with TimeNavi, that would have been vital in my decision making, is time registering. It would have been the first step to understanding how much time I have to give. Instead of treating my calendar as a plan which I use to regiment my life, I now plan significant parts of my day, and then update my calendar to reflect how I actually used my time that day. This shift in my understanding of my calendar as being something that rules and structures my day to something that actually reflects the reality of my day has lasting effects in the long run. Now, a month or so down the line, when I am planning time for the future, I know how long that meeting or event usually takes and I can schedule it with a good guess-timate. PLUS, now I can actually see whether I have the time to say yes or no to other demands on my time and judge accordingly whether it is wise and prudent to say yes, or if this will be too demanding.
Of course, I still get things wrong. There are events that take up more time than I expected, or less than I expected. However, I know where that time is going now and I can reflect on that for the future. It’s not perfect but it is a heck of a lot better than simply saying yes to everything and ‘Oh to heck with the consequences! I’ll manage.’
Can you help? Do you have any advice on making it easier to say ‘no’ to people?
P.S: – I recently read that there are different types of ‘question-askers.’ There are those who ask questions and genuinely do not think about whether a person will answer yes or no, and there are those who ask questions and expect the answer to be yes. Interestingly, those who fall into the latter category, who ask question only if they expect the answer to be yes, when they are asked a question, they, apparently, think that the person is expecting the answer to be yes as well! Therefore, they feel pressured to answer yes. Yet often, said questioner is asking with no expectation. This leads to this unhealthy cycle of people feeling pressured to say yes. This has helped me say no to people, or at least take the pressure off saying yes! Can anyone else relate?