Ready Responses for “Working” Your Next Networking Event

two handed hand shakeNetworking is a skill requiring a certain amount of grace, confidence and courtesy to do well.  Some people are naturals at it. Yet many business professionals are unsure of just how to “work the room” with grace when they attend an event.

Here’s what gracefully working the room includes: 

  • Keep conversations short to allow connecting with many
  • Be positive and courteous to those who interest you and those who don’t
  • Graciously terminate conversations
  • Be smooth and pleasant as you move from one contact to another
  • Leave everyone you meet feeling better because of how you treated and respected them
  • Listen and be present to each person you speak with in conversation

Your success is based partly on your attitude and approach, and partly on what you say. 

Here are some ready responses that will make you a better networker…that’s assuming you bring a good attitude with you as well:

 

  • “Thanks for your time! Will you excuse me? Someone I promised to meet just arrived.”

 

  • “Hey, there is someone I’d like to introduce you to. Will you follow me?”

 

  • “Great to chat. I’ve got to take a quick break. Hope to see you later.”

 

  • “Well, good to see you. Gotta make sure I get around the room today.”

 

  • “Wish I good chat with you longer, but I promised myself I’d meet lots of people here to today.”

 

  • “You know, I’m sorry to cut you short, but the time here is so limited! We both need to meet others in the room today.”

networking

 

 

  • “Looks like it’s time for more networking. Thanks for your time.”

 

  • “I’m glad we finally met. Can we talk about this more by phone? I’d like to call you to follow-up.”

 

  • “That’s very interesting. Thanks for sharing. You’ve given me something to think about. Now I have to see if I can catch this person I just saw arrive.”

 

  • “Pleasure to meet you. See you again. I’m going to make the rounds now and will catch you another time.”

 

In networking like everywhere in life, you’ll meet business professionals you really want to connect with. And others, not so much. Some people you won’t find professional at all, and some you just won’t want to spend your time with.

 

friendly attitudeBut, it’s networking! Your impression and your reputation are important, not just to those you like, but to all those you meet. Ideally you want to leave a flowered path behind you full of people who find you gracious and pleasant, not to mention professional and business-like.

 

Your goal is to connect, be sincere and leave a lasting positive impression with everyone. Having some ready responses will help. It will keep you from fumbling with your words and wondering how to move around the event with ease.

 

Tell me…which phrase, or two, above is one you’d use? Your favorite “line” so to speak? Love to hear what works for you!

The Way to Say It Tips: Telling Your Guests “It’s Time to Go”

empty wine glass end of partyIs there really an acceptable way, a polite and appropriate way to let guests know it’s time to go?  I mean, no one wants to be rude to friends and visitors. It’s not as if we didn’t enjoy them or didn’t want them to visit in the first place. Even so on occasion, we want our guests to go home.

Maybe  our schedule the next day begins early.  Maybe we’ve been running too fast and are just exhausted. Or maybe we tend to be early-to-bed people and are ready to call it quits.

Can we say express that? What do you think? Have you ever suggested gracefully, or even awkwardly for that matter, to your guests that the night is over?

In situations like these most of us watch the clock. We say nothing. Some of us dance around and drop small hints, hoping our guests will get it. Sometimes we go so far as to begin the cleaning up as a signal it’s time.

Most of us don’t know what to do. We just wait. Few people actually tell the truth.

Let’s start with one of the easier, more clear-cut situations to see what we might actually say.

When Illness Is Involved:  

At the moment a dear friend of mine is home recovering from a serious, life-threatening infection.  Everyone in her circle wants to help and stop in to wish her well.  That support is a huge part of recovery, but it can also be a bit much. For her, some boundary-setting requests would help her preserve her limited energy and let guests know “it’s time to go.”

Here are some of “the ways to say it” that I recommend:

 “I’m so appreciative of your coming by to see me. Now unless I want my doctor, and my husband to yell at me, I have to get some rest. I hope you will visit again .”

“This has been such a gift having you visit.  It really makes me feel great. Unfortunately, if I don’t keep my visits short, I really pay for it the next day. I get so tired!  I’m planning on heading to bed in about 15 minutes.”

 “You know, I hate for you to leave, but if I don’t get lots of naps and rests each day, it really wears me out. I hope you understand I need to cut our visit short now. It’s time for me to rest.”

 “Oh, this has been a great visit. Now, if I am to get well I’m going to have to boot you guys out and go take a rest. Hope you understand! Thanks.” 

 Another skilled way to handle these communication challenges is before the fact. Instead of having an awkward moment trying to bring the visit to a close, set your time limits up front. When guests arrive, thank them and give them a head’s up of how long your visit can last.  Say something like:

“Oh it’s great to see you. I love visits but they do drain me so can we plan on about a ____ long visit?”

Or a bit stronger,

 “Thanks for coming to see me. Let me give you a head’s up….I turn into a pumpkin after about an hour and just completely run out of energy. Let’s keep our visit within that time frame.”

 Most people would agree sickness is a justifiable reason to limit our guests.  That doesn’t mean we must have such a dramatic reason to set boundaries on our time. The question remains, what about other situations?

boundary

When It’s a Normal Get Together:

 Here are some ideas to try out in your personal life:

  1. Communicate in Advance:  If you know you have friends who tend to stay long, or an early commitment, or some reason you need to limit your time together, communicate that up front. We have great friends who told us they wake at 4:30 most mornings and are in bed early.  This helps us respect their preferences. We tend to meet early and depart early as a result. No awkward moments.
  2.  Make Your Invite Specific:  When you are a host you get to call the shots.  When inviting, communicate clearly a beginning time and an ending time! There’s much less chance of needing to say anything more.
  3. Work Your Needs into the Conversation:  At some time in the visit, talk about your early commitment the next day and what time you need to be up. Or share how little sleep you have gotten and that you plan on an early night tonight. Whatever your need is, find a casual comfortable way to share it over the course of the night long before it’s actually time to leave.
  4. Be Open, Be Yourself:  Develop friendships that allow you to be yourself, that support honest communication. Get in the habit of using a casual, kidding, light tone of voice to share your preferences and habits. The more your friends know you, the more they will respect your needs and preferences, as well as express their own.

Taking these steps and having these kinds of conversations will take some practice. It won’t necessarily be smooth and easy the first few times. But we can work up to the more difficult conversations and start small.

My commitment is to honest, open conversations, even when it’s difficult. That may not be your choice. It’s really a personal decision each of us make. Just know if you don’t choose to communicate  your boundaries and limits on your time and get-together, you will occasionally have some friends who overstay their welcome. And given that you won’t have stated your needs, you’ll be part of the problem. Why not try speaking up instead?

If You Don’t Tell Her, Who Will?

breaking the silence

You’ve been observing your best friend. You love her dearly, but—-and it’s a big but—- it appears she is headed towards a disastrous marriage. Or maybe she is dating a seriously controlling bad guy, an abusive guy. What do you do?

Do you say it? Do you tell her? Because if you, as a best friend or very dear friend, can’t tell her, who exactly is going to say it? Who is going to help her see what she can’t?

Clearly she is not seeing the whole picture.

Do you love her enough to say these tough things? Do you love her enough to risk facing her anger, her hurt feelings, and possibly a huge emotional outburst?

We worry friends might not like what we have to say. We’re certain they’ll be angry. We don’t know the way to say it. We fear saying it wrong, but deep down we really fear losing them, losing our friendship.  The social norm, “Mind your own business” comes to mind. Maybe it’s not our place we say to ourselves. Maybe they won’t want to hear it. Besides, maybe they already know it. Someone else will tell them, we hope. We don’t want to face this difficult conversation.

But no one else is going to tell them.  No one will speak up. If we are truly the friend we say we are, we need to be the one. We need to say it because true, deep, loving friends want the best for each other.  To be happy, safe, healthy and ideally to not experience pain…or much pain…in life.

If we are truly concerned for our friend’s well-being, our fears need to take a back seat.  Otherwise, we are actually putting ourselves first, not our friend. Some “bestie” we are!girls crying

Difficult conversations are just that. They include risks. They may trigger unpleasant reactions, but the message to be delivered is important and far outweighs the possible short-term reactions we may experience.  NOT delivering the truth, the message, the concern, the perspective includes far greater risks and far worse outcomes than someone being mad at us.

In my distant past, I had relationships with some real unhealthy guys. One in particular was dishonest, massively controlling, and manipulative; and over time, stole from me. Even so, not one of my friends told me the truth of what they saw, not until I was in pretty deep. Now I get that ultimately I was responsible for being in the relationship, but how might my life have been different if my friends at the time told me their truest deepest opinions and insights when the relationship started rather than after it was ended years later?  Might I have sped up my personal growth process? Might I have been able to see my patterns in relationship sooner? Might I have moved on to healthy relationships faster? What if, they told me what they saw and feared?  Maybe I would simply have been stubborn and continued in the same track. Or possibly, it might have saved precious time. I might have lost less of myself, my credit and even my savings.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, right?

Well, what if we added to that:

 Friends don’t let friends be disrespected.

Friends don’t let friends tolerate abuse.

Friends tell friends the truth, even when it’s really tough to say.

Here’s the deal. When as friends, we do speak the tough truth, we have to do so with these things in mind:

  • Your friend might choose not to listen. And that’s ok. It’s their choice and they may not yet be ready for the life lesson knocking on their door.  You still did the right thing.
  • They may get defensive. Sometimes the listener is still too mired in their denial, delusion, or pipe dream to see what we see. It’s ok; you still were a good friend.
  • Your friend may shut down entirely.  Your friend hearing your bad news may show no reaction and appear not to have heard you.  It’s ok; they did hear you, no matter how it looks.
  • You might become the bad guy. Upon hearing your perspective, your friend may defend their relationship choice and make you out to be the bad guy. That’s ok. You know the truth. You love them enough to speak up.

It’s important to keep in mind that none of us like hearing news that contradicts our feelings, especially those to do with “love” and relationships. Chances are your friend will react less than ideally to whatever tough-love conversation you have with them…at least initially.

As we deliver the news and observe our friend’s response, we must be neutral.  We need to be free of judgment. We must keep in mind the bigger picture… the long term well-being of our friends. Upon hearing what we have to say, our friend will need time to process. Time to think things over and maybe then ask more questions.

No matter what her reaction is, know this:  your sharing the honest truth planted a seed. Your friend may heed it now, or they may need time to process it, or even to hear it from others. But, you as their true friend have done your part by speaking truth. They and only they get to decide what to do with it.

tough love 2In my mind a really true friend loves me enough and has the guts to tell me the truth, plain and simple. The real good ones even love me enough to continue loving me even if I don’t “get it” right away. They wait. They give me time.

Have you ever had a friend show up for you at this level? A friend who loves you so much they are willing to piss you off, take the risk you will be ripping mad and even possibly shut them out, to protect you and show what you are not seeing for yourself?

I’d love to hear your stories. Then stay tuned for ” the way to say it”  in a tough-love conversation in my next blog post.

 

P.S. Sorry guys for ignoring you on this post, but in my experience guys tell their buddies when a woman is the wrong one for them. If I’m wrong on that count, let me know your experiences.

Part II: What to DO, When You Forgot What You Were Saying

what was I sayingThe momentary blank we experience when we forget what we’re saying is common to us all. What’s not so common is handling it with ease, grace and confidence.

Whether it’s a result of stress, overwhelm, multi-tasking, aging, bad diet, or just plain distraction, a gap in memory is uncomfortable.  In fact, uncomfortable enough that a common reaction is over reaction, calling more attention and drama to the situation than it warrants.

That’s really the last thing that we want.

In my previous blog post What to Say, When You Forgot What You Were Saying, I shared phrases to guide you through these memory gaps. The suggested responses, or your own versions of them, will take the edge off and give you a minute to think. But there’s more; there are actions you can take, too.

Think of it like this: what your mind needs in the instant you forget is a mini-reboot. Your mind needs a pause, a time-out, a chance to regroup and then continue.

Drawing unnecessary attention to the lapse, or adding drama, or trying too hard will all generate added stress, giving you the exact opposite of what your brain needs.

Simplify, rather than exacerbate the situation. Here’s what that looks like:

  1. imagesOY09CP13Breathe: Turn your attention on your breath. Simply become aware of your breathing and take a few slow gentle breaths. I can’t explain the mechanics of it, but I promise, this simple step is a trusted tool. You’ll be amazed at the effect it has and quickly.
  2. Stop Trying:  When we forget what we intended to say, most of us try really hard to recall it. The result? More strain, stress and effort. Our best response is the exact opposite of trying. Our best response is to momentarily let go. In the letting go, words will come. Think of it like this:  The information you forgot is in there. It’s in your mind, just like data on your computer hard drive. All that’s needed is a minute for the mind to search and locate similar to what your computer does.
  3. Don’t Rush It:  Ever try to rush things on your computer, hitting too many buttons too fast? We all know from experience, it just doesn’t work.  It overloads and we are forced to wait. Treat your mind in the same way. Give it a sec, pause, let it start again.
  4. Trust Your Brilliance: Trust in your ability to find your place and start again. Nothing has been lost. The information/thoughts/words you had before you lost your place are still in your head. Trust they will come to you. The trust yourselfmore you do, the faster your “reboot” time will be, getting you back in the conversation.

A combination of phrases from Part I of this post, and the above actions won’t protect you from momentary loss of memory and focus. They will, however, make those moments less embarrassing and easier to move through, getting you back on track…with a bit of grace.

What to Say….. When You Forgot What You Were Saying

Ever been in the middle of a conversation when suddenly…..huh? …..  what? You’re lost. Sometimes it’s age-related. But it can also be a result of fatigue, anxiety, or even food allergies that affect mental clarity.huh

Whatever the cause, it’s helpful to have ready-to-go responses for those moments. Rather than struggle with embarrassment or self-criticism, it’s important to keep in mind, this happens to everyone. The more anxious we become over these moments, the slower our minds clear and “reset.”

Imagine this.

You’re on a phone talking business about an important project. Suddenly you’re blank. You experience a momentary loss of memory. Most of us stutter and stammer, unsure of what to say, unsure of how to deal with the gap.  A better alternative is to have some ready-responses, even if they have to be written down in front of you for just such an occasion. After all, if you’re on the phone, who will know?

Choose from these ideas, or use them to create your own response:

  • “I hope you won’t mind if I take some time to think this over. I’d like to give it just a bit more time and call you back to finish our conversation.”
  • “Let’s review for a moment….can you recap for me?”
  • “Sorry, I have a call I’ve been waiting for and need to take. Can I call you back?”
  • “Tell me, what are your thoughts here?”
  • “So, in your mind, what’s next?”
  • “Do we have time to think this over and talk later today or tomorrow?”
  • “Someone just walked into my office, are you available to talk about this more later?”

Obviously, not all of these are appropriate for every situation. It will be different if you are speaking with your boss vs. a team member, if you are in front of a group, or one on one. But each of the above responses should give you food for thought to come up with your personal favorites.

Let’s suppose your short-circuit moment is in a personal conversation. Depending on who you’re talking to, it might be best to say, “Can you remind me where we were? My mind drifted for a moment.” Or even, “Tell me that again. I’m not sure I got everything you said.”

I forgot

Or, try one of something like this:

  • “Ugh….someone just interrupted me, where was I? “
  • “Ok, let’s backtrack a moment. I need to review. Where were we?”
  • “Give me a hand here, I got so ahead of myself in thought, I lost track of what I was saying. Can you refresh my memory?”

The less fanfare, the less apology and overreaction to these mental skips, the faster your mind will reboot and come back to the topic of conversation.

Everyone occasionally loses track of themselves, with no memory of what was just said. But in business situations or pivotal moments with an employee or boss, it might not be best to share that. Instead, take a breath and find a graceful way to resume the conversation. You’ll be able to move on without embarrassment and without missing a beat.

Check out our next post this week for more ideas on how to handle a mental gap in your conversation.

“The Way to Say It” on Facebook: 10 Things to Keep in Mind When Posting

Facebook is a Love-Hate thing.  We find it entertaining. Annoying. Too much to keep up with or TMI (just too much information).  Whether we are users or not, most of us have an opinion of Facebook. And it’s not often neutral.

A friend recently asked me about Facebook.  Her exact words were, “OK, miss-way-to-say-it, if you’re such an expert in how to say things, what guidelines should we follow when posting on Facebook?”

I decided to answer her question in this post. Now, I know we won’t all agree on these, so I’ll put it out there now….tell me YOUR thoughts. What are your guidelines or pet peeves about Facebook? Why do you love it, or hate it? Use it or avoid it like the plague?

Here are ten thoughts I have as a communications specialist about using Facebook with some restraint, class and consideration:   

  1. Don’t Make Me Ask If everyone who sees the post can’t understand the meaning of it, it shouldn’t be public. Consider sharing these posts individually through private messaging or with a specific group who is in-the-know.
  2. It’s Not a Book. Remember, sharing your thoughts or experiences on Facebook is a “post”, not a book, nor a tell-all-memoir.  Practice restraint and have some boundaries on the length of your post.
  3. Keep Your Dirty Laundry at Home. If you’re angry, fed up, frustrated, arguing, or at odds with a Facebook friend, this is not the place to air your issues. Have some class.  Ideally, talk it through. At the very least, use private “message” so only the two of you can see it.
  4. Practice Food Restraint. We all enjoy knowing what our Facebook friends are up to. What experiences they are having, what’s new. Generally that doesn’t include seeing or being updated on every meal. Practice some restraint. Only share photos of a meal when there is something unique, special or interesting to tell with that photo, or on Instagram. Besides, it makes me hungry to see all these yummy foods!
  5. Not a Place for Intimacy.  If your post includes a “pet name” for someone, or an inside joke or something intimate, please, keep it off public pages. Find a private way to communicate your intimate messages. They are great—for the insider.
  6. Take A Breath Before You Post.  When you have negative feedback to share, take a breath to think it through.  Those few moments may make all the difference between what you share with your Facebook followers, and what you don’t. The urge may pass or you may elect to keep that negative feedback for the individual or company it relates to.
  7. When It’s About You.  If a friend posts something about you, or to you, that you don’t like, put on your way-to-say-it attitude and talk it out. Call them to explain why it’s unacceptable to you and ask them to remove the post. Ask what they meant by it. If you don’t have their phone number, handle it in a private message. Skip the public response.
  8. No One’s Perfect If you have offended someone on Facebook…inadvertently or intentionally….have the guts to clean it up with them. Apologize and then remove the post.
  9. Mixing Business with Personal.   If your Facebook page is predominantly for business, all the rules of face-to-face networking apply. Keep your politics and your religious views to yourself.  You don’t want to mix business with personal and risk offending clients.
  10.  Share the Glory. When you post something wonderful, sweet, or complimentary about one of your contacts, be sure to insert their Facebook name so they, too, will see your positive words.

So to my friend who asked, that’s what I call the way to say it on Facebook.typing at keyboard

And to my Facebook friends…sorry, I know you won’t all agree with me, so tell me what you think.  What are your thoughts? Feel free to disagree. I’m ready to hear what you think about Facebook posting, as well as my comments.

For more suggestions on Facebook posting and behavior, see 14 Do’s and Don’ts to Being a Good Facebook Friend.

‘The Way to Say It’ Tips: How to Disagree without Conflict

different directions - test - it works in firefox and chrome.

It’s insanity to even begin to think we could be in agreement with others all the time. With so many different cultures and religions, a multitude of life experiences to draw from, so many diverse areas of expertise and education, and even just different family values, it’s a wonder we ever agree!

Even so, for some of us, the idea of disagreeing out loud is scary and something to be avoided at all costs.  As children lots of us were taught not to disagree, not to express ourselves openly, and not to share differing points of view. We learned to keep our mouths shut. We learned to avoid conflict, friction, and above all confrontation. 

But over time, that just doesn’t fly. At work, we must make difficult decisions. We must face opposition to our views. We must stand up for employees and defend funding for projects. At home, we must set boundaries on our time. We have to decide how to spend joint monies, how to raise children. In every area of life whether that means at work, at home, with friends, with family or with strangers, we are faced with differing opinions and ideas and contradictory points of view.

Rather than continue to avoid or be in fear of these other beliefs and opinions, how about learning to step into them? How about learning the art of difficult conversation and even some phrases for the way to say it when one disagrees?

disagree blackboard - test - I was able to edit the image via the icon on the image in firefox.

Here are some simple, but not necessarily easy, steps to take to work through disagreement with grace and an open mind.

Step One:   Offer Mutual Respect

Recognize the other has as much right to their point of view as you do.  And believe it; don’t just give it lip service. Come from that mindset right out of the gate. Before you even open your mouth, tell yourself multiple times “They have the same right to their opinion and beliefs that I have to mine.”

Step Two:  Establish Understanding

Now that you recognize you both have the same right to your point of view, take the time to hear out the other person’s perspective. Really listen and try to put yourself in their shoes. Can you see how they drew these conclusions? Why they feel the way they do?  Allow their perceptions while still having yours.

Step Three:  Seek Agreement

Once you have heard each other’s story, work together to determine where there is agreement.  Don’t expect total agreement. Simply find where you share the same point of view. Where is there overlap in your perceptions? What perspectives and beliefs do you share? Where do you agree? Where do you see things the same or similarly? Finding that common ground creates a great foundation to build on.

Step Four:  Clarify Points of Difference

While maintaining that there is some agreement, get clear on exactly where the point or points of difference lie.  After listening to each other’s positions (Step 3), most likely you have discovered there is more agreement than originally thought.  With that in mind, take a fresh look at where the gap is, where you each see things differently.  Is there room for compromise? Cooperation? Has anyone’s perspective changed?

If so, wrap up by talking about the common ground and the understanding gained.

It’s perfectly ok to disagree. The object is not to convince each other of your own point of view, but to educate each other on new viewpoints and to create understanding. If you can accomplish that, you have succeeded! You can each go on your way seeing things differently. But now you have an expanded view of the issue having  shared your perspectives.

Here are some phrases that will prove helpful in the art of disagreement without conflict:  

  • “I appreciate your point of view and I think I understand your feelings. Here’s how I see it. “
  • ” I wish I could agree with you. Unfortunately, I see it differently.”
  • “I respect your opinion and hope you can respect that my viewpoint is different from yours.”
  • “I understand your position and I agree on xxxx points. Here is where I think we see things differently.”
  • “We have some common ground and some points where we disagree.”
  • “Wow, I had never thought of things from that perspective. Thanks for sharing that point of view. It opens things up for me. “
  • “Thanks to your insights, I have some thinking to do on this topic. Thank you.”
  • “Now that we have talked it through, I see your point of view more clearly and I respect your opinion. We do agree in some areas and we do not in others, and that’s just fine.”
  • “I so enjoy that we can hold different points of view and respect those differences. Thanks for sharing your perspective.”

Having a different opinion than your spouse or co-worker or even your boss is not the end of world. Considering the wide range of factors that lead us to our conclusions, disagreement is to be expected and accepted. The key is doing so without judgment and criticism. If we give the level of respect we want, everyone wins. 

Respectful disagreement is healthy.

 

The Two-Letter Word That’s Killing You

Just say it!

Just say it!

 

Repeat after me, “I wish I could, but I just can’t right now. No thank you.” Now say, “Thanks for the invite. I’m going to have to pass.” Take a breath, and now out loud, ““I would love to help you, but right now I just can’t.” Or even a simple, direct, “Sorry, can’t make it. I have a conflict.”

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? It’s that simple–acceptable ways to say no. Say it. Say “no.” In fact for an entire day, no make that and entire week, walk around saying,

  •  “No, I’m sorry. I can’t make it.”
  •  “No, thanks. I’m busy.”
  •  “No, actually that’s not a good time for me.”
  •  “No, I would prefer you don’t do that.”

Practice. Practice. Practice because half of the battle is just getting used to saying it. And it does get easier with time.

Saying "no" with grace is a learned skill.

Saying “no” with grace is a learned skill.

Saying “no” doesn’t equate to anger. Saying “no” won’t kill you. And, even more important, the less often you are saying no, the more likely it is that you should be. It’s about boundaries. If we never say “no” then friends, kids, spouses, families, bosses, essentially everyone in our circle learns to keep asking us. We’re an easy mark. We give in. We agree. We cave in to do things we don’t really want to do. We say yes when we mean no.

Our inability to say “no” costs us and it costs us dearly energetically and emotionally. Over time, any choices we make that are not in alignment with what our intuition or our heart wants, take their toll on our health. Not saying what is true for us affects how we feel about ourselves. It diminishes our confidence and sense of self-worth.

Generally women struggle with this habit more than men. Even so, we all could use some practice in honestly saying no when that’s what we feel, instead of losing ourselves in people-pleasing.  Though none of us like to think of ourselves as people-pleasers, that is what we are when we do what others want instead of speaking our truth.

Striving to be kind and generous is a good thing. Being kind is about the other person. About generosity. About giving.  People pleasing— well,  not so much. People-pleasing is about YOU. It’s about your need to be liked.  If you never utter the word “no”, it stems from a desire to not disappoint others or hurt them or just tell them the  God’s honest truth for fear of disapproval. Instead you choose to abandon your wants and needs and blurt out “yes,” when deep down you’re screaming “no” silently. It’s “no” that you want to say.

I think we can agree that it IS hard to hear “no” to one of our own requests. But wouldn’t life be oh so much easier if we told each other the truth? If we kindly, yet honestly. said what we want and what we don’t.  Personally, I would always rather hear the truth even when it’s hard. Even when it is not w hat I had in mind. I just hope the truth will be told to me directly and kindly.

Granted, sometimes it takes me a few minutes of processing to get comfortable with the rejection to my request. Still I prefer it to being lied to or to having to deal with passive aggressive resentment that I can feel.

This week promise yourself you’ll spout out a solid “no” to at least one request made of you each day.  Tell me how it goes. Saying “no” is a learned skill and you just might come to like it!

 

 

 

25 Great Responses to Graciously Receive Gifts

pile of gifts

If you read my blog post earlier this week, 5 Things Never to Say When Receiving a Gift, you may have discovered you are not the best at accepting presents or expressing genuine gratitude. Maybe you struggle with finding the right words, or feel self-conscious. Or just don’t know the way to say it and express what you feel. No worries.

Now that you’re aware of how you come across, you can respond differently and be a gracious receiver.  People will love you for it, and you will enjoy gift exchanges much more yourself. Who knows, you might even find yourself the recipient of more gifts!

To begin, let’s go review those “Five Things Never to Say…” and offer better alternatives:

  1. Instead of “Can I open this later?” how about something more positive and engaging like, “Oh thanks! I’d love to open this now!Now your gift giver knows that you’re excited to be getting a gift and don’t’ want to wait to open it. What a great feeling they get, knowing you are excited! It’s a gift giver’s dream.
  2. Instead of “Do I have to open this now?”  Say “Can I open this now?  I’m just too excited to wait.” Think about it…if they hand you the gift now, it’s because they want you to open it now. Otherwise they would have waited. Generally, people hand you their gift when they want you to open it. Don’t disappoint. Let them enjoy the giving and witness your response.
  3. Instead of saying, “Thanks. I have one of these,” simply be gracious and receive it well saying, Thanks so much! This is a great gift.”
  4. If and only if, the gift is expensive and you have it already, your response will be a little more challenging to be honest. Consider saying something like, “Wow, I love this. I can’t believe how well you know my taste! I do have this item though. Do you think we can decide together on something to exchange it for?”
  5. Time after time I hear people (mostly women) lament, apologize, and fuss over the fact that they didn’t buy a gift as well. PLEASE, if this is you, eliminate this response from your repertoire. Take a breath and slip into the role of gracious receiver. Simply say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me! What a nice surprise!”

….and now twenty more choices to be a pleasant, gracious receiver this Holiday:

6.    “Thank you very much. This is something I’d never have splurged on.”

7.     “How did you know? …..I’ve been wanting a _________________.”

8.     “I love this. It’s so unique.”

9.     “What a great gift! Many thanks.”

10.   “I appreciate your kindness.”

11.   “That was very sweet!” (or kind, or generous or thoughtful)

12.   “What a fantastic gift! Thanks so much!”

13.   “I LOVE presents. Can I open this right now?”

14.   “This is really touching. Thank you.”

15.   “I’ve always wanted to have a _______________.”

16.   “I love handmade gifts. They have such meaning. Thank you.”

17.   “Thank you for thinking of me.”

18.   “Wow! You really know my taste. I love this.”

19.   “This is a perfect gift choice for me.  Thank you!”

20.   “I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

21.   “Thanks so very much. This is wonderful!”

22.   “I’m delighted. Thank you.”

23.   “Thank you so much. I will treasure this gift.”

24.   “How kind of you to buy me a gift.”

25.   “What a wonderful surprise! Thanks for thinking about me.”

It’s not too late to be a wonderful receiver of gifts, acts of service, or hospitality this Holiday season. Simply try these responses and allow yourself to be a bit more open.

Regardless of the way you say it this Holiday and whether you find the right words, don’t be a Grinch!  Enjoy and let the gratitude in your heart come through to those who love you enough to purchase a gift they chose especially for you.

How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas

THANK YOU for following my blog! That is a great gift to me!

Happiest of Holidays!

 See you after the New Year with more of the way to say it.

5 Things Never to Say When Receiving A Gift

(Check out my next post this week for great responses to receive gifts graciously.)

You don’t have to be a child to LOVE receiving gifts. But, when it comes down to it, kids just naturally get it! They show excitement, excited child at Christmasenthusiasm, and happiness. Their faces light up. They exude emotion as they tear off wrapping and dive into their surprise.  With children, it’s not hard to tell if they’re delighted by a gift.

With adults—not so much. While some adults do resemble children when receiving a gift, the reactions of many adults leave much to be desired.  Here’s an example. I once struggled to find a great baby gift (not my forte) for a friend. When I gave her the present, she thanked me and promptly put it in her car. I never got to see if she liked it, was happy, or what. It simply disappeared.

My all-time favorite one though is this.  My husband and I once found a beautiful black sweater we loved so much, we not only bought one for a family member, but one for him as well. When the relative opened the gift, his wife critically blurted out, “Oh, black. I don’t know if we can get used to black on him!  Really? Of all the things to say, that was their best response?find your gift

Giving a gift requires time and effort. Even the smallest of gifts requires thought, shopping and money. In spite of this, we love to give presents.  And we love it because it makes us feel good.  The old adage, “It is better to give than to receive” hits the nail on the head.  We’re take pleasure in the act. We like the feeling of satisfaction that comes from bringing joy to others. For most of us to really feel that satisfaction, however, we have to know the gift was appreciated. We want to see and feel the receiver’s reaction.

Flat, indifferent responses take the joy out of giving. Don’t be an ingrate with responses like these in your gift-receiving moments:

“No-No” Responses:

  • “Can I open this later?” (meaning after you leave) – This response denies the giver all the joy of giving the gift. They don’t get to see your response and will definitely feel slighted hearing these words.
  • “Do I have to open this now?” – Seriously? Someone went to the trouble to think of, shop for and buy you a gift and you want to know if you HAVE TO open it now? This one is never a good response to generosity. It creates discomfort for everyone and most often the giver will respond politely with “No, you can wait,” but secretly inside they are disappointed.
  • “Oh, thanks, I just bought one (or got one) of these.” – Unless the gift is something you want and need two of, the “I just bought one” is unnecessary info that should be left out.
  • “Oh, my God… but I don’t have a gift for you!!”  This one is a common response among women, one that needs to be ditched. Giving a gift was the choice of the giver. If someone elected to purchase a present for you without specifically asking to exchange gifts, no apology is necessary.  They are doing what they wanted, expressing sentiment. Be a gracious receiver and let them know how surprised and pleased you are. I challenge you to say absolutely nothing about not having a gift for them.  Don’t take away from their generosity by apologizing and shifting the focus. Simply enjoy!
  • “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” – This is definitely an outdated saying. It’s from a time when people spoke more formally, less directly and more politely. How can the gift giver possibly respond but to explain and defend why they wanted to do this for you? Skip this response. 

So exactly what should you say? See our next post this week for great responses for gracious receiving and be sure to share these posts with people who want to be better receivers.

Now, tell me…what are your horror stories? What’s the worst thing ever said to you when you gave a present? I’d love to hear your experiences, too.