By Penelope Aspinall, Mental Health Consultant, Jonathan’s Voice
Part of establishing good boundaries is being able to say ‘no’. This comes easily to some people but for others it can feel very hard. There are various reasons for this, for example:
So, whatever the motivation or the consequence, being able to say ‘no’ in a clear, pleasant and unambiguous way is a skill that is useful both at work and at home.
Do you know any people who say ‘no’ well? How do they do it? How does it make you feel? On the whole, when it’s done well we just accept it and move on. Saying ‘no’ can feel really hard at first but like all new skills, gets easier with practice. Accept that people might start to see you in a different light – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Leanne is working in a busy Finance team, with key monthly tasks and frequent requests from across the business. She often works late and sometimes at weekends to meet the competing demands. Her family and friends are concerned about this and she has recently upset a close friend by letting them down at the last moment when she announced she had to work late.
Things came to a head when one of the fee earners came to Leanne on a Friday afternoon asking her to complete a complex report for a client meeting the following Monday. This would have meant working at the weekend but this would clash with an important and long-standing family event. Leanne realised she had to say no to the fee earner and became aware of how difficult this was going to be for her. Leanne had to face the fact she found it easier to let down those she loved than to say no to certain requests and demands at work.
However, in this instance, Leanne felt she had no choice. She expressed her genuine regret to the fee earner that she would not be able to do this by Monday and explained the reason why.
To Leanne’s surprise, the fee earner was very understanding and agreed that of course family needed to come first and apologised for asking her to do the task at such short notice. They had not realised it would have meant working over the weekend, said they would find another solution and hoped Leanne would have a wonderful time with her family. The fee earner also encouraged Leanne to let them know if this kind of situation occurred again. Leanne felt extremely relieved and realised that it was actually OK to say ‘no’ to things in the future, when there was a good reason.