E. had a few things to say to me after my confession.
“Why did you do that?” her voice sounding a little annoyed.
“They needed help.”
“And why did they need help?”
“Uh...” I stammered, feeling as if I was about to answer a trick question. “They were in a bind.”
“Their bind is their problem!” She continued. “It’s not your problem, don’t make it your problem. Next time you need to say no.”
“How do you ever expect to get to the things that really matter to you if you keep saying yes to the things that don’t?” She asked.
My crime? I took work home with me over the weekend. Why was that a crime?
Because I’m the girl who can’t say no. Especially to employers.
Pulling my weight from 9 to 5 certainly can’t be enough for me to prove to you how indispensable I am.
If you need me to take a work related phone call at 1:30 a.m., I won’t complain.
If I know I’ll be stuck home with a sick child on the day that I have a deadline, I’ll be up at 4am to finish it before my child needs attention.
I’ll get it done.
For me, the “not saying no” department has mostly revolved around my work life. Why?
Because if I say yes to everything you ask of me, even if your requests are unreasonable or don’t mesh with my life or my values or my schedule, at least I’m guaranteed a paycheck, and so long as I have that paycheck, I can survive.
So I’ll jump as high as I can and for as many hours as I can pry my eyes open to write your proposal or finish that report in hopes that you will never fire me.
Because if you may recall from my last post, I can get a little uptight about my chances of survival!
“But…it’s a new job…” I counter. Because I am still in that “trying to prove myself,” phase, that self-imposed hazing of trying to show an employer my awesomeness.
“OK, the other thing is, are you listening to your voice?” E. asks. “It’s an adolescent voice. It’s nasal. And a little whiny” (E. doesn’t mince words, if you haven’t noticed). You need to drop your voice into your throat and speak from your adult place. Let me hear you try.”
“How’s this?” I ask, in a deeper tone.
“That’s it,” E. says. “You’ve got it. I want you to practice speaking from your adult place this week. When you feel challenged by your boss or when you are asked to do things that don’t work for you, like put in extra hours that you don’t have to give them, remember to use your voice. Come from your adult place,” she repeats.
The next day, at work, when challenged on how I handled a phone call with a client, I dropped my voice, and magically, the debate was resolved.
When trying to wrangle the kids out to the bus stop, the adult voice cut right through the commotion.
And when I made eye contact with my children while using the adult voice, the results were next to miraculous!
When my wireless carrier gave me the run around about some problems I was having with my phone, poof! Like magic, I got the help I needed when I dropped my voice.
There is more, of course, than just altering your voice. The secret ingredient in this for me is the attitude behind the voice.
Dropping my voice reminds me to approach these situations from my adult place.
My unapologetic adult place. Without excuses. That place that is committed to take care of and honor me.
Because when we stand behind ourselves, from our voices, and from our hearts, the other person has no choice but to take us seriously.
Adjusting the tone of my voice has somehow re-set the tone for how people treat me. To be specific, it has allowed me to set the tone for how they treat me.
At least for this week.
My belly is out of real estate at the moment, so I’m using my wrist for this one!
How are you at saying “no?”
Are there certain people or areas in your life where it is more difficult than others?
When you do say no, do you worry about the repercussions afterwards?