Wednesday, 14 August 2013

On Being Assertive

I have a problem. I can't say no.

From here
Seriously- it's like this scene from 27 Dresses. If you ask me for something, chances are I'll say yes.

It's a little bit ridiculous really. In my old job, a woman I was doing some work for once said to me "Oh Alice, you're brilliant, you never say no!". And it's true- if a senior member of staff, or a close friend, or (in most cases) a family ask me to do something, I'll struggle to refuse.

For example, when I went to Thailand, I had to travel straight from work on the Friday, meaning I had to have absolutely everything sorted by Thursday night in order to be happily on my Saturday morning flight. But somehow, on the Wednesday night I ended up both babysitting for my little sister, and baking and decorating my first paid commission for a cake. All because I can't say two little letters. Really, that evening I should have committed to one or the other. In the end, I managed to get everything done- but my goodness, I got a little bit stressed.

Apparently this runs in the family too. My brother recently returned from a holiday with his best friend's family, and told us how I had an almost constant hangover because the paterfamilias just kept topping up his drink at supper each night. My grandmother rather bluntly asked him "E, do you not know two letters? N and O?", to which E replied that this isn't the sort of man you refuse.

But the thing is- I suppose we really should learn to say no sometimes. I end up feeling horrendously stressed sometimes because I take on just a little bit too much all at the same time (mostly to compensate for all of the quiet time I have too). To the point that in my current job, my bosses have conspired against me and have enrolled me on an assertiveness course, to teach me to stand up for myself and say NO every now and then.

So I'm curious. Is this just me?  If I'm being brutally honest with myself, I often let people abuse my guilt complex and sometimes walk all over me. There are some things I have no trouble refusing- drinks from strange men, for instance- and I can stand up for myself pretty well when I have to. But if a strong personality asks for something, I can't not do it. Le sigh. I'm too nice for my own good sometimes.


  1. definitely not just you, one of the wards in my hospital guilt trip me so badly I always end up working double shifts...I quickly learnt to say no when they forgot to tell payroll so I didnt get paid for them though!x

  2. Your bosses sound great! It is hard and everyone is scared of pissing people off, but once you get in the habit it's easy. Promise x

  3. I am exactly the same - I need to say no more!!

  4. I can't cope with guilt...even if I do pluck up the courage to say no on the odd occasion, I stress myself out with guilt so much that I end up doing the thing that was asked of me in the first place! Maybe we should go on a 'Just Say No' class. xx

  5. I'm quite like this, too! But I've learnt to have a good talking to myself from time to time and say a firm no to things. I think sometimes we worry about being a good friend too much, or that we might need the favour repaying one day, but those things will still happen even if we don't try and juggle one hundred things at once all the time. Be kind to yourself and learn when enough is enough - saying no is ok! And it's actually quite liberating :) Saves a lot of stress x

  6. I know how this feels my dear! I have the same trouble. I think it makes us really jolly nice people though!

    Kate x
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

  7. Oh gosh hello, me too! One of my old bosses said he was going to send me on a "How to be a Bitch" course! Slightly more crass than your boss by the sounds of things. My husband just recently gave me a good talking to as well, all about being less available to everyone else! One thing though, when you do have a baby one day, you start putting them first, so that also means you rank above the rest of the world too! But if you can learn it before then you may save yourself some time!! xx


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