The Art of Slow ~ Just Say ‘No!’

October 5, 2009

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis, author of the fabulous Why Don’t You Understand: A Gender Relationship Dictionary, was kind enough to allow me to reprint this article I wrote originally for her blog. If you have a hard time saying ‘no’, listen up. It’s your turn now.

The Art of Slow ~ Just Say ‚No‘!

(c) 2009  Christine Louise Hohlbaum

This is a call for mindful living. Now, more than ever, we need to utilize the tiniest complete sentence the English language has to offer, the reverse of which refers to what you will always be if you do not heed its calling. With a little practice, the simplest, most powerful utterance in our fabulous system of words can be yours. Are you ready? Say it with me now.

No!

If you refuse to occasionally shout out this word, this wholly gorgeous statement, you will be ‘on’ more than you’d like. Trust me. If you’ve ever agreed to organize that two-hour bake sale that took ninety days to arrange, you’ll understand.

As the holidays approach, many of us forget that word, as if we are toddlers all over again, learning the power of ‘no’ to get Mommy mad. During our evolution as human beings, ‘no’ somehow becomes a bad word, along with death and taxes.

But I am here to tell you there are ways to say no and still remain friends. I dedicate a whole chapter to the principles of saying ‘no’ with kindness in The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. In three simple steps, freedom can be yours.

  1. Acknowledge. If someone asks you to do something, it is because they have faith you can do it or they like you enough to want to spend their time with you. If spearheading a new project or attending that party makes your heart sink instead of sing, acknowledge the person’s thoughtfulness for having considered you.
  2. Express gratitude and interest. Thank the person for their invitation, then show interest in their efforts.
  3. Decline. Once you have acknowledged the person’s request and expressed your gratitude for their consideration, politely decline with a few simple words. If ‘no’ itself is too hard, you can say you have an overlapping commitment.

It may sound like a lengthy process, but the entire thing can be handled in a few sentences. “It sounds like a wonderful opportunity that I am going to miss. Do keep me posted on your progress!” Saying ‘no’ is a lot like flossing. You may not notice an immediate impact, but, over time, you will appreciate the difference it can make in your life.

Still having a hard time pushing those two letters through your teeth and into the air before you? Remember this: saying ‘no’ to someone else is saying ‘yes’ to yourself. It is your personal bank account of time. How you spend it is entirely up to you!

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