• Louise Roke

The BIggest Little Word

It's one of those little things that mean so much. The other day I was speaking to a lovely hairdresser lady and she was telling me the story of how she was asked to babysit and she works very, very long hours and his sister was asking her to look after her child for the two days that she had off. So here she was working on her feet all day and sometimes till nine o'clock at night and then on her two days off she did. She wasn't able to do anything because she had to look after the baby. Well, when I say have to look after, she felt like she had to look after her niece. Now, the reason she had to look after her niece was because her sister was actually going to work on those two days. So she really, really struggled with the fact that she really didn't want to do it.

And it wasn't because she doesn't love her little niece who's just a baby; she absolutely loves her, very much and she loves her sister very much. The fact of the matter is, she didn't want to say no. Well that's a lie as well, because she did actually want to say no, but felt if she said no, she'd be letting everybody down and she sort of forgot about her own safety. And when I say safety, I mean as far as welfare in that she needs a break and she needs to have a life too. The sister has a lot of alternatives, but instead, the first place she went to was her sister and asked her, which put her in a position where she had to make a decision whether to give up her two days of work; the only two days she has off a week from a very, very busy, stressful and physical job. Not only that, but when you're a hairdresser you do talk a lot. So you really need those two days off; everybody needs time to go and smell the roses. So I said to her, well, why didn’t you say no? And she said, Oh, I don't know. I just find it so difficult to say no. And then we had this whole conversation and I said to her, look, I'm going to have to do a podcast about this because I know it is a very, very difficult thing for a lot of people to do. And even though when they're asked the question, they do want to say no, what actually comes out of their mouth is something the opposite.

So today I thought we'd just take the opportunity to talk about the biggest little word of ‘no’ because it really is a life changer. Assertiveness is something that can take time to work out. And assertiveness certainly isn't aggressive. Assertiveness is just saying how you really feel and putting your opinions forward so you can stand up for what you believe in or what you need. And it doesn't mean you're selfish. It means you're not being walked over like a doormat, because people will say yes all the time. They get known to be people who are easy to manipulate and nobody wants to be manipulated. So first of all, the advice I gave her that I'm giving you, is when you're actually asked a question to do something or commit to something that involves either a yes or no, the first thing you need to do is stop, pause, slow yourself down and say to the person slowly, okay, what I'll do is I'll get back to you about that. I need to think about it first. If they say to you, well, when are you going to tell me? You can say, I'll get back to you once I’ve thought about it. Basically you need to have time away from the person who's asked you the question before you give them the answer. In other words, if the person puts pressure on you to give them an answer in five minutes or you they are going to hang around for an hour, that's not the point. The point of the matter is you need to actually be away from that person or that situation or both, go away and take the night to think about it.

Don't let people put you under pressure. If they say to you, well, I need to know in the next hour say, Oh well, I'm probably not the person you need then because I need to think about it. You need to take back control of you because in actual fact, asking you to do something now, probably involves you sacrificing something. Now let's face it, the main thing in life these days that is sacrificed is time, because we are all busy and time is something that is worth a lot. So in this instance where this hairdresser had two days off a week, she had actually sacrificed her whole two days off to stay at home with a baby and not give herself any time to enjoy. So she ended up very, very frustrated and very, very angry actually that she had agreed to babysit because this situation wasn't a one off. This situation actually went on for two months. So she babysat for two months every week on her days off because she had said yes instead of what she really wanted to say. She had no life and she was stressed out of her brain because she had no real break. So when I say you have to look after your safety, that's what I'm talking about, the safety of you, of your welfare, of your stress levels, of your anxiety levels and of your social well being and health. She could have turned around and said a number of things if she had actually said, listen, I'll think about it and get back to you. She could have thought about a lot of different things. She could have brainstormed and thought, okay, well I do love my niece and I do love my sister and I do want to help them out so maybe I could do this day in that day or maybe I could do half a day here or there or maybe I could say to her, if you get absolutely stuck I will help, but I do want you to try to get a babysitter on those days first. If you say yes to something then you commit to it, because if you then turn around and say, Oh no, I can't do it, then that's going to be a whole other kettle of fish. You've opened up lots of different avenues where you’re letting people down. So it doesn't matter what it is, it doesn't matter if it's something you want to do or don't want to do to or something that somebody wants you to do.

It's really good practice to teach your children, especially teenagers how to say no, because there's lots of times peer pressure comes into play and it continues when you're an adult. So take control back, slow down the process and say, I'll get back to you. It also makes that person realise you're not a pushover. You're not just going to agree because somebody wants you to jump in a car and go on a joy ride or to take the day off school. You need to take control because at the end of the day, some of these people are just thinking about themselves. They don't really care about you. All they care about is their own needs are getting met. You really need to make sure your needs are getting met in the best possible way and that doesn't mean you're being selfish and doing things are detrimental to other people. It means you are putting yourself as a priority; what is going to work for you and your life. And you know your life better than anyone else because you're living it. If you don't know your life, someone else will, then you know there's a problem there. So the biggest little word that you need to learn how to use is ‘no’ and when you say no you don't need to give an excuse, you can just say, Hey, listen, I've thought about it and I won't be able to do that. Or maybe next time you could say, I've thought about it and I don't want to go and do that or it doesn't suit me. You don't need to make up a big drama, you can simply say I've thought about it and the answer is no.

If the person says why is that, just say it doesn't work in with me. It doesn't fit. Not right for me at this time. It's not good timing. When people ask you a question, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to go into an explanation about why and why not; this is your life and you deserve to enjoy it. And there can be a lot of pressure especially in some cultures where they really put this guilt thing on you. At the end of the day you've got to ask yourself, what did they do to solve their own problem? So just remember, slow down the process, think about if you do want to do this or you don't actually want to do this and that is where you kick in your intuition. What is your intuition telling you? Is your intuition telling you, look, actually, this is a really bad idea. I don't want to go drinking with these people. What positive thing is it going to bring into your life? Doing what these people want you to do, whether it be babysitting, whether it be doing a job or helping someone out. I mean, if you don't actually want to do it and you don't feel good about doing it, why are you doing it? Why did you actually say yes? You're going to do something you actually don’t want to do and it's quite crazy.

So look in the mirror and go, oh, I'll get back to you. I'll think about it and get back to you. Or you can start practicing straight out and saying, Oh no, that doesn't work for me, thanks. Sorry about that. No, I can't make that work. Or no, not this time. So look in the mirror and start saying, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

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