Right from childhood, we have been infused so much with the idea that we always have to give to others. Some of us practically live by the word in the Holy Book that says it is more blessed to give than to receive hence we find it so difficult to say no to requests but at some point, this same giving leaves us drained and exhausted, so when can we actually draw the line?
Naturally, I am a giver. I share everything that I know would make someone else’s life better, everything from ideas, advice to money and a lot of my time. However, as I grow older I have come to realize that there are downsides to always saying yes when asked for a favor.
I’m learning that I can not give to everyone and that sometimes I need to look the other way in order to maintain my own sanity. This is due to the fact that sometimes I get obsessive about the idea that I must fix someone else’s challenges forgetting that mine is also staring me in the face.
A lot of times as givers, our friends including family or just people, in general, become so used to us doing every single thing they ask that at some point they even become rude and entitled about it. Your assistance or help is no longer regarded as a blessing but as something that they are entitled to so they never expect you to say no to them.
Last year while heavily pregnant, I had this rollercoaster of emotions. I was in the middle of thought as to why I had to remain on earth with all the terrible things going on in the world. I was literally thinking of asking God to take me the way he took Enoch. Yes, I didn’t really want to die but I just got tired of the earth…not something I’m really proud of but that did happen.
Right in the middle of this thought, someone throws me a long WhatsApp message about how her relationship isn’t working and how she needs me to immediately spring to action and give counsel that will help her salvage it. Right timing isn’t it? Absolutely not! As much as I appreciate that she thought of me in that ugly situation, I was empty at that point in my life too.
Same way some people feel that since you are living outside the country, you have a lot of money and you can solve all the problems in the world. That’s simply not true, even if you have a great job or business there are times when you are really broke. Sadly, people hardly ever understand that just like them, your account goes in the red sometimes too.
We all have friends, family, co-workers or people who ask us for help with things that we might not readily have the time, resources or skillset to do, so how do we say no without being mean about it?
These are some things that I’m learning how to say or do to wriggle out of these situations and say no without being a jerk
I’m Afraid I’ll let you down if I say Yes
This might sound like you are lying but I think it’s a subtle way to avoid a responsibility you would rather not be saddled with. For example, someone asking you to be their bridesmaid when you have nothing in your account or someone asking you to take responsibility for their kids when you are still managing with yours.
It could be a response to someone asking you to commit to sending money to them at the end of the month or talking you into making a purchase you can’t readily afford on credit and then giving you options to pay in installments. Letting them know you might let them down appears to be a way out that doesn’t sound mean or make you look like a jerk.
Let me refer you to someone
A lot of times, our family and friends expect us to always give our time and resources for free. Sometimes they even ask for things we do not possess the skill-set for and yet they just want us to deliver on it regardless.
So instead of always having to do free consultations, free services or bend over backward to meet their needs, you might as well refer them to someone you think is more qualified to help them out. I guess it would be easier to let them pay for their needs when its an outsider providing the service and not you.
I can’t do that for you but here’s what I can do instead
Last year, I shared ideas with an acquaintance and she started a business that now fetches her nothing less than $500 a week. After sharing this idea for free, she still came asking for several free favors like branding, social media and corporate work.
I was appalled at the entitled manner in which she made these requests so I decided to let her know I can’t do that for free and I suggested another way, which was to show her simple techniques to use till she was willing to pay for services that will create professional logos and do an entire corporate branding for her business.
So far the above 3 methods have been helping me and I’m slowly learning not to feel bad about not being able to fix everyone’s problem because the truth is, I have mine and they won’t magically go away if I focus too much on doing for others.
How have you been saying no? Do you usually feel bad about it?