Monday, October 11, 2010

Learning to Say No

Okay, so saying no is hard. I mean, it's just two letters (N-O), but dude. It's hard.

I've got to get better at this, I think. I'm just always saying yes to everything that crosses my inbox. Here's why: I'm worried I won't be building a bridge I want later on. The problem is, I don't know which bridges I want/need for later on. How can I see the future?

And so I say yes to everything.

But that can only last for so long. And then I'm completely burned out. And then my bridges start burning. (ha ha!) No, seriously. I have to say no. And I can only hope that the bridge will wait to be built at a later time.

What about you? Do you find it hard to say no? How do you decide what to say yes to?


Oh! And the winner of Lauren Strasnick's HER AND ME AND YOU is Ishta Mercurio! Congrats! Email me for details, okay? Okay. (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com)

Double Oh! And I'm partying with Author Linda Gerber today on her blog. Her book TRANCE comes out tomorrow, and she's giving away a lot of stuff! For my party, you can win a signed copy of DEADLY LITTLE LIES by Laurie Stolarz! So get over there and do that, too.

83 comments:

Nayuleska said...

I'm the same. But when it interferes with health/sanity (or both), then yes, saying no is ok.

I find it hard to say no to books!

Buffy Andrews said...

I'm a bit like that, too. I'm on church council, on the principal advisory committee at my son's school, organizing my class reunion, yada, yada, yada. But here's the thing. You can't do it all. You are only one person. I'm a huge believer in giving back to the community and helping others in any way I can. But you and I know that you could spend your entire life doing that and never have any time for yourself and your family. So you have to make choices. Not easy, I know. I would explain to others that you'd love to help, but just can't right now because you're spread too thin. Maybe next time. They will understand. And I think that in the end, you will be happier because you are giving those causes you agreed to 100 percent, not anything less because you have 10 other things waiting in the queue. Good luck with this. Blessings, Buffy

Renae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki Rocho said...

Ditto all that - but I'm working on it. It helps to know others who can say no because amazingly I don't think any less of them for tellin ME no. In fact, I prefer a no up front to a "sure" which gets weasled out of later. So I try to offer the same courtesy to others.

Renae said...

Saying no is hard for me as well. I try to tell myself there are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much that one person can handle. But it's still somthing I struggle with.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Age has taught me when to say no - for the most part. Online has been a challenge for me though. I didn't want to say no to any opportunity, not with my book coming out next week. But in the past couple weeks, I did say no, as I've already overstretched for my tour. They understood, too. I think people appreciate it when you say no right away.

Quinn said...

I have trouble saying no. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I guess I need to practice too.

magolla said...

Call me cold and unfeeling, but I have zero problem saying NO. I say yes to the projects that interest me or my kid, but will say NO in a heartbeat.

Don't overthink it. Don't try to think how the relationship might benefit you in the future--live and say YES (or NO) in the now.

Christina Lee said...

It's definitely a life lesson and I've gotten much better with it over the last decade!

Emily White said...

I have a really hard time saying no, too--at least online. I have no problem saying no in person, but I think that's because whoever I'm saying no to at the time can actually see that I'm sincere in my reason for saying it. Online, though, you have no real way to communicate your honesty. I'm always afraid people will think I'm saying no to be mean or for some other hurtful reason.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Considering my week ahead - Muse Online Conference starts and I'm doing a week-long forum and a chat today at 9am and the Book 'Em Festival this weekend with school visits all day Friday - I'm beginning to wonder if I do know how to say no! Least I was smart enough not to schedule a seminar this week.

Bish Denham said...

I have no problem saying no. I have learned (maybe it comes with age?) that there is such a thing as the creative, positive, and constructive "no."

Go thou therefore and without fear speak the word, "NO!" It has power.

Jessica Nelson said...

I only have a hard time if I don't have a reason, or if someone asks personally. If it's a mass e-mail, I ignore it. :-)
Learn to say no. Your brain will thank you for it. :-)

Christine Fonseca said...

Saying No is hard sometimes, but if you don't learn to do it...you get fried too easily. At least I do!

Jen Daiker said...

Sometimes I wonder if NO is missing in my vocabulary! I've had to use it recently and every time I felt awful for saying no but I need to remember to help myself or I won't be of use to anything I'll want to say yes to later.

You can do it! Take it easy, don't overwhelm yourself with saying NO to everything, start small and work your way to the top where you'll feel comfortable being apologetic and declining.

Michelle said...

It's so hard, because I want to do it all, be it all and have it all! Is that too much to ask?
But then hubby just suggested I stop writing... so I need to find a few things to say no to so I can continue to write! ikes

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm a yes person too. And even when I do say the occasional no because I have to, I still feel guilty. Ugh.
But it's okay to say no. :)

Liza said...

I read about a similar topic this weekend that included advice to a college administrator who was bombarded with requests for informational interviews. The suggestion was for the administrator to inform the the individual making the request that she enjoys conducting interviews when her schedule allows, but that currently her time is booked. There was a further sugggestion to refer the individual asking for the interview on to someone who might be available (I'd request permission to do that first). Maybe you could incorporate something like this into your responses to requests when you are overloaded?

Theresa Milstein said...

I also have a hard time saying no. You have a huge following and a book coming out, so I can imagine how many requests you get for help. Do the best you can. Be honest when you can't do it and don't worry about it too much. If the only thing keeping someone as a possible bridge is what you do for that person, it's not a very strong bridge to begin with. Or something like that.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I always think I'm really skilled at saying no until I get overwhelmed and I realize somewhere along the way I said yes one too many times.
~ Wendy

Natalie Aguirre said...

I have a hard time saying no too. I've found I've had to do way more at my daughter's elementary school and now middle school for the PTSO than I planned. And kept being president of an adoption support group I founded for many years longer than I wanted until I got a replacement. You are well known in the blogger community and give back so much. So I wouldn't worry if I were you if you have to say no sometimes. You have a full time job and family too.

BTW, Your book was on The Story Siren's list to pine for last week-Thursday or Friday. Go check it out. She's a big book blogger and I put in a plug for you in the comments. You should see if she'll interview you or let you do a guest post closer to your publication date. Here's the link http://www.thestorysiren.com/

Overdunne said...

I go through phases where I realize there is just TOO MUCH on my plate. Usually coincides with some extreme grumpiness on my part...yelling at my kids, internal monologue of filth...you know the symptoms. Then I slash. Activities, responsibilities, appointments...if it's stressing me-it's history. Surprisingly enough, no one seems to mind! And I'm a much happier mommy/physio/spouse! :)

Love your blog :) Keep writing!

Deni Krueger said...

Grad school taught me to say no. I was married with two kids under age 2 when I started. I also worked. If I'd have said yes to every project, I'd never have seen my kids:) It was a great lesson.

Tabitha said...

I sometimes have this problem. But my time is so limited these days (with kids and other stuff) that I guard my writing time like a tiger guarding her cub. :) So, unless it's so cool that the heavens are going to strike me down if I say no, I apologize profusely and then say no. :)

Tess said...

cute new author pic! so, so perfect.

and, saying NO? yeah, it sucks.

Michelle McLean said...

yep, saying no is incredibly hard...mostly because I don't want to hurt feelings and I really do want to help when I can. But yeah...sometimes you just gotta say "sorry, no" :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

The hardest things to say no to are the things you really want to do, but then will over-commit you such that you can't do the other things you really want to do.

Wow, that sentence is awful!

But you have to say no - otherwise you can't say yes anymore!

Amie B said...

OMG - i SUCK at saying no!

But...I don't think saying no automatically burns a bridge. Sometimes No can mean Not now. So, you've left that bridge intact. :)

Jennee said...

I've been on the yes train for a while. I keep saying I'll say no, but I like each opportunity a little more and then I experience major burn out and panic at my commitment. Such is life. I've always been a pleaser, so NO is a hard word for me.

Kristen said...

I struggle with this too. My husband and I were just talking about how nice it would be to never have to sleep again. I could accomplish a TON... *sigh* I need to get better at the no thing since it's a little more practical ;).

Anna said...

I have a really hard time saying no, too. Judging by the comments thus far, this is a common problem! You don't want to pass up any opportunities, but you also don't want to drive yourself crazy! What I've found, though, is that people are usually completely understanding when you tell them no, which I think makes it a little easier.

Rebecca said...

Why is it so easy to say no to my kids, but not to others? Maybe I should just pretend that all those others are my kids, and respond accordingly!

Lydia Kang said...

It's easier for me to say "No" now that ten years ago. I guess I've gotten more selfish! But really, the truth is it's about maintaining happiness. It takes work, and it takes saying "no" sometimes.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yep! Me, too. Why is it so much easier to say yes, which is a three-letter word, than to say a simple, little no?! We can work on it together! :-)

Carolyn V. said...

I'm working on the saying no thing, or else I get stuck doing more stuff than I have time to do. But most people understand when I say I just can't. =D

Slamdunk said...

Congrats to Ishta.

I have gotten better at saying "No" as I have gotten older. Either I am getting wiser or more lazy--probably the latter.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

I'm actually pretty good at saying no. It took a long time to get to this place, but after you've burned out one too many times, it gets WAY easier!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I definitely have a hard time saying no. I don't like to let people down. Maybe I should practice saying it in front of the mirror.

paulgreci said...

I sort of ebb and flow with the abilitiy to say no but it's something we all have to work with, all the time. Thanks!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I can honestly say that is one problem I don’t have. I know when to say no, but politely so I don’t burn bridges. If I can’t give 100% effort then it won’t help them anyway, right?

cleemckenzie said...

I really can't tell someone I don't have time to read their manuscript. That's so hard for me because I know how much it means to have someone take the time to give feedback on something I've written.

Sara B. Larson said...

It can be hard to say no, definitely. But sometimes you just have to. I don't get very many requests to do stuff in the author world yet, so I haven't had this problem. But I can see how it would get really hard. You are crazy busy, don't feel bad about saying no. We'll all understand. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

It depends on the situation. Sometimes I'll find it easy to say no, other times it'll be really difficult.

WindyA said...

Saying no is definitely one of the hardest things to do, but 2 things to remember are ... on the personal side, the people should know you and understand that you can't do everything they ask all the time ... on the professional side, the people should realize they too, could not say yes to everything all the time. So it's a bit double-edged, but in the end, you need to make sure you can put all your effort into whatever it is you're doing. No one would want you to say yes and then not be able to give it your all, yanno?

Kelly Dexter said...

I have a very hard time with it. I want to please people and am not so great at letting them down, but I'm working on it.

lbdiamond said...

Yup, in certain situations (like if someone has done a favor for me), I find it hard to say no.

If, on the other hand, a stranger walks up to me--say in the mall and they're holding a sample perfume or a clip board--then I have no problem saying no. LOL!

Colene Murphy said...

I don't have a problem saying no. Which is a problem in itself. Because I tend to come off...bitchy? But then again, that is with people I know/family and at work. Haven't been faced with any "writer-world" decisions for yes/no answers with other writers.
So maybe we can swap a little personality mojo.

Anita Saxena said...

It has taken me years to learn the art of saying no. But, I am so glad that I have.

Krispy said...

I'm a huge pushover. It is so hard for me to say 'no,' but it's important to be able to. There's just not enough time in the day to do what YOU need to do and also do what other people want you to do. I don't know if saying it gets easier, but good luck!

Sandy Shin said...

Like you, it's so hard for me to say 'no' to anybody. Not because I'd like to build connections (thought there's that, too), but because I'm too much of a coward and have no idea how to say no. I still need to work on that. :)

VR Barkowski said...

I have no issues with saying no. It's the guilt that follows that's the problem.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I find if you say YES YES YES than everyone expects more from you and then when you do say NO, then you're the bad guy. SO um vary the yes and no's so they don't know what to expect!

Ishta Mercurio said...

*GASP* I WON?!? This like, NEVER happens to me! WOW! *does happy dance* #mykidsthinkImcrazy

And I have trouble saying "no", too. I just don't like disappointing people. And I'm with you on the burning/building bridges thing. It's a tough one to get past, I think.

Susan R. Mills said...

This is the 2nd post I've read today about saying no. It is tough, but sometimes you just have to do it!

lotusgirl said...

I used to be really bad when I was younger. It was "yes" always "yes." I was continually over-scheduled, but now, I'm a lot more realistic about what I can actually accomplish. When I can't do something or even when I'm not interested in doing something, I say "no" as nicely as I can and hope the person understands.

DLCurran said...

I think it's a pretty common problem - I'm trying, learning to say no. Gently. And trying to leave the door open for later. But though it's hard to disappoint someone by saying no, I find it's even worse to not meet the expectations I've allowed them to build by saying yes when I shouldn't have. (Really bad sentence, but I'm just going to say 'no' to rewriting it... and take my kid on a bike ride instead!)

Have a great day! :)

Hannah Kincade said...

I have a hard time saying no because I'm naturally a generous person. I've been burned so many times I can't even count them all. I've given literally thousands of dollars to friends that has never been paid back and I've never been well off...not even a little bit. Oh well, maybe one day I'll learn.

Matthew Rush said...

It's tough, but putting yourself out there as much and as kindly and as often as you have sure has earned you a lot of respect in this community, I know I have tons for you. Still, you're only human, there is no way you can do it all. We will understand, or at least I know I will.

Jen Chandler said...

Ugh. NO is such a hard little word. You KNOW you need to say it, but it's your mom, your best friend, your sister, your blog buddy, your plumber.

Life is all about learning to balance the YES and the NO. Not easy. Not one stinkin' bit.

Jen

Danyelle said...

*hugs* No is a good thing sometimes--especially when it creates more stress and heartburn than it's worth. I think sometimes that more bridges are burned by saying yes and being so overwhelmed you're unable to do well on the commitment than to say no with a short explanation.

It's hard though, but worth it. :D

Teri K said...

I like your comment about not knowing which bridges to burn. I've found myself saying yes to activities that end up being different from what I expected or how the were first presented. I hate that because I don't feel right dropping out, but I resent doing jobs that were misrepresented. Then sometimes you can't say yes to the right opportunity, because you still have this other thing you got stuck doing. What a dilemma!:)

Carrie said...

I have a hard time saying no too. I used to work two jobs until I got burned out. Now I work one job and write during the day. I think you should say yes to the things you want to do and have time for. Bridges can always be built when the need for them arises.

Lisa_Gibson said...

It's tough. I've had to learn a way to say a tackful NO over time. I'm a single and only parent and my time is very precious. So yeah, there are times that I have to say, "I'd really love to, but have to decline at this time. Keep me in mind next time. Sorry!" It generally works out okay. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Jemi Fraser said...

I suck at saying no. Which is probably why I spend over 60 hours a week on my job and am always exhausted! :)

Karen Lange said...

I have trouble saying no too. Even when I think I have set good boundaries, I still come out with more to do than I can. Working on this...I have gotten better and I automatically say no to certain things now. I also tell people I will get back to them, even if they push me for an immediate answer. I don't always think well on the spot. If they can't wait a reasonable amount of time for me to get back to them, then they need to look elsewhere.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Definitely! I learned this the hard way!

Nathalie said...

You already do so much Elana! Everywhere I look, you're either at the forefront or behind the scenes of some literary type event or thing. If anyone deserves to say no, it's you gurl! P.S. Can I borrow $100 bucks?

Josh Hoyt said...

Its always hard to say no but if they are someone you want to build a bridge with in the first place they will understand when you say no and explain why.

Kaylie said...

It's not so much that I feel guilty about saying no as that everything that takes up time in my life seems like so much fun! How could I turn it down? I might miss something.

Nichole Giles said...

You can always say no to me. As long as you don't, like, throw rotten vegetables or, IDK, snowballs or something, I'll still be your friend.

No burned or drowned bridges here.

But yes, I get what you're saying. I have that issue too. Way. Too. Often. If you ever figure out, like, some miracle way to clone yourself or something, shoot me an email and share the deets, okay? Okay.

L.T. Elliot said...

I TOTALLY have this problem. It's a good thing, though, to be able to say no. Boundaries are always a smart thing.

Tessa Quin said...

Use the 80/20 rule! It basically means (in this context) that you should analyze what's getting you promoted the best (80% of all promotion) and say no to the rest. I know it's hard, but you're an author and you need to write.

The 20 means that it's usually 20% of where you "market yourself" that gets you the 80% results. That means that 80% of where you market yourself only gets you 20% results. Find the 80% results and I promise you that tons of weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

That said, I think you need to continue blogging, because I love reading your blogs - I mean, because I believe it's a huge part of your marketing ;)

Tessa Quin said...

Oh and yay Ishta!

Claire Dawn said...

I'm only happy with a lot on my plate. But it's a thin line. I never seem to realise what overextended is, until I'm way past it. And then I feel like I'm letting down people left right and centre. Most of all myself.

Casey McCormick said...

Holy wow, do I have this problem. I've been getting better and better about saying no but it's taken me a LONG time to get where I'm at and yeah... I'm still saying yes to a lot.

Finding balance isn't easy, that's for sure.

Wicked-Sassy said...

My issue is taht I say "no" when I should say "yes" and vice versa.

Any suggestions?

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Julie Wright said...

I don't know how to say no, which is why I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Donna M. McDine said...

Being a "yes girl" can be quite draining at times and I need to learn how to say "no" but with compassion.

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