Ask anyone in my family, and they will assure you that I am not a people pleaser. It’s not a matter of selfishness or narcissism, but the acknowledgement that I am one person who can only do so much. I don’t feel guilty about saying no to requests. But if I tell you that I’m going to do it, you can rest easily with the knowledge that it will be done, early and correctly. Personally, I prefer people that say what they mean and mean what they say….. This is why I don’t work in customer service or sales.
As if we moms aren’t doing enough throughout the year, The holiday season seems to bring on its own special set of requests. Can you bake four dozen cupcakes for a party tomorrow? Can you pick up a few extra presents that we forgot? Can you whip up a dinner for the boss and his family tonight? Can you do this….do that….do this….? Stay-at-home-moms especially feel the surge of holiday requests since, after all, they just stay home and “don’t really do anything.” Yup. Those are quotation marks there.
Unlike me, most moms tend to be people pleasers; but taking Unhealthy responsibility can leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally depleted…and that leads to illness…which you do not have time for!! So how can you politely say no without hurting the other person’s feelings or feeling guilty yourself?
- Keep it simple: Simple responses such as "Sorry, I can't this time" or "I'm afraid I'm busy that day" are most effective. State your piece and don’t accept argument.
- When in doubt, buy time: If you can’t be that assertive, say “Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you." Then consider the best way to say no.
- Expand your definition of "I have plans": If you planned on some quiet time for yourself, that is an engagement. So don't be afraid to say, "Sorry, I have plans."
Take it to the Next Level
Address these holiday requests…
- Request: You are asked to coordinate the holiday party―again―at your child's school.
- What you should say: "I know I'm going to disappoint you, but I've decided not to volunteer this year. Is there any way to get some of the other parents to step up?" You don’t owe them an explanation as to why you can’t do it….you’ve done it several times, and you’ve done your part.
- Request: You're invited to a distant relative's annual Christmas party―for the 14th year in a row.
- What you should say: "I've really had fun in the past, but I can't make it this year. That week is already packed for me." Send a nice Christmas card instead.
- Request: A guest offers to bring her seven-layer dip to your party. It’s really bad and always gets thrown out.
- What you should say: "What a kind offer―thank you. I have already planned the menu, but do you have any dietary restrictions I should know about?" If she's just asking to be nice and insists on bringing something, suggest a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread.