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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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The Possibility of 'No'
cricket
na_lon
Various people in my life - some of the flist and some off it - have been arguing about a variety of things. I haven't paid over much attention, because I don't have the energy to get involved.

But one thing that has crystallised for me today is that these 'arguments' or 'issues' or whatever have one type of flash-points in common: that of how to respond to a request from someone else, be it a professional or a friend.

My feeling is that a request needs to be treated as simply that. It is not an order, and the requester needs to be aware of the possibility that the answer to the request is 'No'.

No doubt that such a 'No' can upset or cause further problems, but it ought to be possible to say it. This can be done sensitively - no need to be defensive or rude about it. E.g. "I am afraid that I am not comfortable with [doing x]." Such an answer says, to my mind, "Please don't push me. Give me breathing space."

It might surprise me, or annoy me to get a 'No', and I think I would be entitled to such feelings, but I also ought to respect the answer - especially if a friend gave me that 'No' or a client. If I pushed beyond the 'No', I would be creating a barrier between me and my friend/client/student.

So - what am I saying? I guess what I am getting at is that some things might seem like a small deal to me, but to someone else they may be a big deal. But since I can't secondguess another's response, I need to be allowed to ask. And accept if the answer is not what I like to hear.

{Exits stage left, calls: "Marquis, could you please get me a drink?" Answer: "No." Thinks: "Shouldn't have posted all that..." Goes to fetch drink.}


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I agree. At first, it can be tricky, and people who aren't used to you saying "No" or making requests of you tend to react against it to start with...but in the long run, you get greater respect. It can be tricky to learn to accept "No" graciously too.

I starting trying this with my MiL and various others a while back, result good. Although I don't claim to be an expert (ha ha, far from it, I'm imperfection personified)... sometimes I forget again :(

I cited you above and also explained why I didn't think JS's comments came only into that category though. I forget which one now (probably one of the_marquis's).

Now my brain hurts. And I think I've gone off-topic. Pfft, I'll leave it.

I too find "No" very difficult, both to say and to hear - connected with my more general difficulties with assertive behaviour.

I am getting better, though - 40 years of practise, and 25 years of occasional training courses, are slowly having their effect.

After 60 years it gets even better. Keep practising! (I have to admit that having a bus pass and/or walking stick helps quite a lot, though!)

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