Sunday, November 6, 2011

Learning To Say No...Sometimes!

I love learning!  Let me repeat...I LOVE learning!  There are lessons learned that I like more than others, but I like expanding my knowledge base and challenging my gray matter!  OK, too many exclamation points, but that is how I feel!!!

Learning some things is certainly easier than learning other things.  But you already knew that, huh?

There is one thing I have been wanting to learn for many years now.  How to say "no".  I had a boss many years ago that tasked me with saying 'no' to every salesman I had contact with for an entire week.  I had just been promoted and being able to say 'no' seemed like a silly thing.  What if they offered an wondrous deal?  What if it was a limited time offer?  But, I completed the task.  I would listen to the pitch, ask questions and then say 'no'.  Was that ever hard!  I felt foolish at first, but as the week went by I began to see my boss's way of thinking.  Even wondrous deals or limited time offers don't always deserve an answer in the affirmative.  Being able to see beyond the snap judgement was a great thing.

So, I had learned to say 'no'.  Right?  Well, yes and no.  I don't jump at every offer and I can tell you that early experience taught me that all deals are not as wondrous as they might initially seem and even limited time offers can magically be extended.  Learning to say 'no' in those situations helped my career and my personal life.  How many moms have said 'no' to one of their children to have the retort, "You're mean!" thrown at them?  I count myself in that group!  But saying 'no' to a child is not as easy as saying it to an adult, especially if that adult is your boss.

I am a people-pleaser.  I want to do things that others ask of me; I want people to be happy and think well of me.  Even so, being able to say 'no' can save your sanity.

"No, I can't work 2 hours past my scheduled quit time."  "No,  I can't add one more task to my day."  You get the idea.  The list is long and I am sure we have all found ourselves in that position.  This is your boss asking, maybe telling you that something has to be done and now.  I am not suggesting saying 'no' all the time or even most of the time.  I just want to learn to be clear about the expectation held out to me. 

The reason for this topic?  I am running myself ragged!  I love my job, but I am there more and more well past quitting time and my reward?  More tasks to be completed in the same time that I am to perform my normal duties.  I can't throw my hands in the air, so I will be practicing saying 'no', but being clear that I want to get all the work done, but just not right this moment.  I don't think this makes me a bad employee, I think it keeps me happy about my job and not hitting the streets in search of one with less stress. 

Tomorrow is Monday and when I get to work I will add one more task to things I want to get done everyday.  Learning to say 'no'. 

The Hopeful Romantic

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hoping is sometimes just not enough!

A few days ago a man came into my office.  I had met him before, but this day he looked beaten down.  I didn't remember much about him (I had met him just once before and only very briefly), but I did remember he was a bit more "up" the last time.  My natural tendency is to want to help people, but I am loathe to impose my notion of how to live life onto others.  As he told me in general terms that life was not good for him or his family right now I felt rather at a loss.  I couldn't fix whatever was wrong; I could only offer a friendly smile and wish him well.  Just to clarify, he had not come to my office for help, but I found out more years ago than I can remember that I seem to be one of those people that others confide in.  People tell me their secrets.  I don't know why, but I do my best to honor them even if they don't ask me not to tell.  Sometimes we just need someone to listen, not someone to offer up answers.

After the man had left my office I found myself recalling the encounter several times.  I wished I had more time to share how life had been particularly hard for my family and me for several years and how I had finally come to my own realization that despairing about it only magnified the worst parts and left me precious little time to see anything good.

More and more I try to focus on the more positive side of life.  I recognized something about myself years ago...I need time to "fall apart".  Then after a time of tears or dread  I can formulate a plan of action.  The initial reaction to something unpleasant of despair gives me the opportunity to flush the nasty feelings so I can move on to something more productive.

I look for solutions to my situation and if one if not readily apparent, I focus on the good things in my life.  One word I have recently focused on is 'hope'.  Hope is good, but if you want something to change 'hoping' is sometimes just not enough!  I am reexamining how I use the word and looking for something that describes more how I want to live my life.  When I say 'hopefully' I feel I am putting to much emphasis on something I can't control and less on what I can really do about it.

So, back to the man who came into my office.  I will not judge his situation, but thank him for helping me to see a new way of looking at things...with hope, but not hopefully!

The Hopeful Romantic