[Courses] [Spineful Living, lesson 5: The Hardest Nos]
carla at bratgrrl.com
Mon Apr 30 00:21:10 UTC 2007
Or it is The Hardest Noes?
I was cruising through "When I Say No I Feel Guilty" when the phone rang. It
was a friend who wanted to borrow my pickup truck. I said yes. Then I went
back to the book and got to thinking- why did I say yes? What if I had said
no? (Not that I really wanted to say no, it's just an illustration.) Which
got me to thinking about the hardest people to say no to.
For me it's friends and loved ones. I can tell phone spammers and religious
proselytizers and pushy salespeople where to get off. But when it comes to
friend and family, well, that's a whole different deal. Why is that? What's
so hard about saying "No, I do not want to loan you the truck today." Or "No
mom, I do not want to drive 350 miles to visit you." Or "No, I do not want to
support yet another school beg-a-thon for your kids." Or "I hate Amway, Mary
Kay, SeaWeed Life, Miracle Herbal Candles, PowerCrystalRocks, and all
multi-level marketed products, so don't even invite me to your home parties."
Because I work at home I've had a lot of practice at being the broken
record- "No, I cannot do that now because I AM WORKING." It seems that a lot
of people have jobs that give them abundant free time to take care of
personal business, so they assume that everyone's a slacker. Well I don't.
But it took a bit of pain and almost-missed deadlines to get stern about it.
All of these come down to the same problem- people who want something from me.
What's in it for me? Most of the time, not a darned thing.
===A Lesson in No!===
Terry, my significantotherlightofmyeyesloveofmylife and all that kewl gooey
stuff, is good at being authoritative; a lesson a lot of women need to learn.
She has worked in jobs where she had to boss teenagers, which is the ultimate
test in bossing. But even wise people who have seen it all get misled by
their own compassion.
The sad tale is as follows: Young friend of hers is living in another state
with the parents of his girlfriend, and their baby. Terry works with friend's
father, so every day she is hearing phone calls where son is begging for
help, send money, it's awful here, her folks are nuts, help help, and dad is
all gee I just can't, I don't have any money. Dad doesn't come right out and
ask for help, but he hints around a lot. So Terry buys bus tickets for son,
gf, and baby, and makes dad sign a note for the loan.
Son & family gets home, he's all happy and full of thank-yous. Until it's time
to fork over money to pay Terry back. She collects a couple of payments from
him (pretty much by force) then son gets in legal trouble and disappears. So
she goes to dad, who tries to blow her off, lala not his problem. He doesn't
exert himself to pay his debts under any circumstances; I guess if you're
dumb enough to loan him money you didn't really need it is his
philosophy. But he did sign the note, so she put the screws to dad and after
some truly heroic Fogging and Broken Record-ing, and threats of legal action,
she finally got repaid. (And she hadn't even read the book then!)
A few points I think worth pointing out here are:
1. Being compassionate and caring does not mean you are required to be a
2. If you make a mistake like this you are still entitled to a full recovery,
so you must be immune to any and all attempts at guilting and weaseling
3. It doesn't matter how well-off you are- when someone owes you something,
you are entitled to be paid back.
Number 3 is an especial peeve of mine. An awful lot of people have the idea
that anyone who is more prosperous than they are is required to share. A lot
of people have these weird, vague ideas that they are supposed to share
because it is "right". Well no, you're not required. It's your choice, and it
is entirely your right to say "no."
Homework: please share your best horror or success stories at dealing with
loved ones who want things from you.
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