Don’t String Me Along

maybe notJust say “no!”

Call it a pet peeve, but it drives me crazy when people respond to my request with a “maybe” when clearly, they want to say “no.” Don’t get my hopes up with a “maybe.”

Saying maybe only delays the discomfort temporarily. Eventually, they will still have to say “no.” The delay of the inevitable, the avoidance, the bs answer only makes it more difficult.

Everyone asking for help, extending an invite or making a request is well aware they may be turned down. And though none of us like that rejection, it does go with the territory.  We don’t get everything we ask for.

The inability to decline a request only complicates things. Being turned down is acceptable. Maybe not our preference, but certainly acceptable and manageable.

Being told “Maybe…maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I can do that for you. Maybe I’ll be there” when it’s obvious that won’t happen is frustrating. It keeps us hopeful. It keeps us waiting and thinking our invite might actually be accepted.

Eventually we have to step up and take personal responsibility.  We need to communicate directly and use common courtesy. The other person is waiting on our response, planning around our possible “yes.” Often in their minds, it’s as if we already said “yes.”

When we are asked to attend a meeting or help with a project or offer support that we either cannot or do not want to do, we have to say so. Preferably right then and there. On the spot.

If you know the moment you’re asked for help that you aren’t available (or interested), say it. Say “no” in whatever form suits the situation. Whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, a close friend or a colleague, your response can be the same.

The way to say it should sound something like:

  • “No thank you, I’m not going to be able to help with that.”
  • “No, I’m sorry. It’s not possible this time.”
  • “No, I wish I could help but I’m already committed.”
  • “No, thanks for asking but I’m overwhelmed with commitments at the moment.”
  • “No. I appreciate the offer but that’s just not my thing.”
  • “No, I’m not going to be able to help you out.”
  • “Sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t make it.”
  • “Thanks for thinking of me but I won’t be able to join you.”
  • “You know, I appreciate the invite, but I’ve done that and it’s just not for me.”

Guidelines for turning down a request look like this:

1.     Don’t hesitate.
2.     Keep it short.
3.     Don’t explain.vote maybe
4.     Leave no doubt.
5.     Be courteous.

Essentially, keep it simple. Tell the truth and be sure you were understood.

Don’t say “maybe” when you mean “no.” You’ll save time. Avoid prolonged discomfort. Eliminate their wondering and no longer be chased for your answer. No one likes to be strung along. No one wants to wait and wonder. Without answers, it’s difficult to plan.

Next time someone in your life makes a request, asks a favor, or shares an invite, give your honest answer. Say it clearly, courteously and with grace, but say it.

Four Un-Romantic Thoughts to Share on Valentine’s Day

valentines beary muchRemember Valentine’s Day as young children?  Everyone in class got a card….everyone!  The goal was to be inclusive, to make everyone feel good. It was less about romance and more about friendship and kindness, about relationships with the people (kids) we spent every day with. Of course we had our favorites, but no one was left out.

The romantic relationship in each of our lives is important, but today, I’d like to focus on all the other ones.  Male or female, young or old, personal or work, family or business, these friendships make a huge difference in our day-to-day experiences. They connect us, ground us, and make us feel like we matter.

What I’m wondering is this……just how expressive, appreciative, and grateful are you in these relationships?   I’m not asking what positive thoughts you have about these people. I want to know if you share those thoughts with them…out loud.

Do you tell your friends what they mean to you? Or do you think “they just know?” Are you uncomfortable expressing your positive thoughts, or just wonder what to say, or if you should say them at all?

To some, this might qualify as a difficult conversation—one where you say the pleasant, nice things you think or feel about these individuals.  In actuality, it’s not difficult at all. It might simply be a conversation you never got accustomed to having. Or maybe you wonder what words to say. It’s simple. Say what’s in your head.

With each passing year, I am more certain that sharing these positive thoughts make all the difference in the quality of our relationships of all types.  Not just the romantic ones. I’m talking about partnerships. Friendships. Family connections. Social groups. Long-distance friends. Electronic friends. Business network connections. Neighbors. Our service providers. Our employees, and co-workers. They ALL matter. Each connection enriches our lives in some way. Some very greatly.

What if you started telling these people the good thoughts that come to mind and the good feelings you have about them?

Let’s talk about some of the things we could (and maybe should) say more often to those around us:

thanks, etc.Express Gratitude – Most of us automatically and frequently say “thank you” during the course of each day.  Take it further, consider saying more. Elaborate. Give. Say, “Thanks that was really kind of you” or “I so appreciate all of your extra efforts for me,” or “Thanks, you are always so helpful.”

Share Compliments – Seems most of us think compliments far more often than we speak them. What is that about? Why not just verbalize those thoughts?”  Every day we should share the complimentary thoughts we currently keep locked up in our minds.

Don’t just think, “Wow, you look great today.” Say it. Tell your UPS guy, “You’re always so friendly. Thanks.” Say the nice thoughts that come to you. There’s no cost, but the payback to such honesty is priceless.  Everyone is uplifted by a compliment–the giver and the receiver. Whether it’s your gardener, your dry cleaning lady, your mailman, your neighbors, or your employees, share your positive thoughts.

Show Your Respect – Many of our daily interactions are with other professionals. Imagine these professionals respect you and your output, but never tell you.  Doesn’t feel right, does it? Why not “go first?”  Open up communication. Express your respect for the great job your doctor’s office does. Tell your employee you find him to be the ultimate on follow-through and detail. Share with your hairdresser how much you love her timeliness. Tell your colleague how their feedback helps you in your job.  Whatever nice thing crosses your mind, don’t hold it hostage. Don’t keep it. Give it away. It will come back to you.

Offer Support – At one time or another, each of us struggles with a personal or professional challenge.  And more often than not, we attempt to minimize that struggle and “suck it up.” In the midst of those difficult times, a few words of encouragement are invaluable. Whether it’s a co-worker, a business colleague, or a friend, reach out with even a few simple words of support. Tell them you understand. Offer your help, if appropriate. Provide an ear to listen, or if it makes sense, share your similar experience so they know they aren’t alone.  A few words of support go a long way in strengthening your connection.

heart candies

Honest, authentic communication is a great habit, a useful tool, and a wonderful way to live your life. Why not spread the love around a little wider this Valentine’s Day (and every day)?  Start sharing all the wonderful, grateful, kind, supportive thoughts you often think of others in your life. It will enrich not only the lives of those around you, but yours as well. It’s hard to say who will benefit more.

How to Shift Gears, Save Time & Avoid Conflicts When You’re in a Bad Mood

warning bad mood in progressI’m a strong proponent of direct, honest, clear communication in just about every situation. That includes days when we are not at the top of our game. Or to be more direct, days we’re in a bad mood.

I recall times as a child trying to decipher body language, facial expressions and energy of adults. Trying to figure out if things were “safe” or if I needed to lay low.  Not knowing for sure what was up meant walking on eggshells till things calmed down.

I still don’t get why it had to be so difficult. Why not just say it?

It’s natural to have bad mood moments or even days. We shouldn’t feel guilty or stuff the feelings pretending they don’t exist. When denied, those feelings only intensify.

Why not just say it? I’m in a bad mood today. I’m having a tough morning. I’m not myself. I’m out of sorts. If we can just say it, the people around us will know to give us love or patience, or to just get the hell out of the way till we return to a better frame of mind.

By being real and honest and owning what’s up for us, we will not only move through it more quickly, we’ll also help those around us understand what we need.  The trick is knowing the way to say it, so we won’t be at a loss for words.

To manage a mood and avoid misunderstandings that result when your team doesn’t know what’s wrong,  use simple direct “I” statements. They tell those around us clearly, that we’re off our game and need a little time.

Your “bad mood” warning could sound like this:

  • “Right now I’m in a bad mood.  I want you to understand it has nothing to do with you.”
  • “I’m sorry to say I’m in a bad mood right now. I don’t want to take it out on you.”
  • “I would appreciate your understanding. Today, I’m not feeling myself. If you can give me some distance this morning, it would be a help.”
  • “I am not feeling patient right now. I need some quiet time. Think you could give me some space till I can move through this?”
  • “Katy today is going to be a busy day at the office so I wanted to give you a head’s up. I had a horrible start to my morning and need some time to turn that around. I’ll check in with you in about an hour.”
  • “Mike, I’ve got some personal things on my mind right now and they’re affecting my mood. Just wanted to let you know, if I seem short, it has nothing to do with you.”
  •  “I need you to know I’m really angry right now, but not with you. If you can just leave me alone for a bit while I figure things out, I’d appreciate that.”

 Just say it! It will give you the space you need to shift gears without wasting the energy of those around you.

In the workplace, productivity won’t suffer with your employees tiptoeing around you not knowing what’s wrong or if it’s them you are angry at. And at home, everyone will relax when they learn you’re in a bad mood, but it has nothing to do with them.   warning proceed with caution

Pick your favorite line above. Or make up your own and give others warning when you’re not at your best. Everyone benefits.

Four Words Guaranteed to Send Men Running

This conversation starter doesn't create the mood we intend.

This conversation starter doesn’t create the mood we intend.

Ladies, it’s true. We grew up hearing adult women say to their men, “We need to talk,” but I’m here to say don’t do it! Popular belief was that these words would be a good introduction to talk through an issue, handle a concern, or establish more connection.

No matter how many times you’ve heard this phrase, or how easy it would be to say, or that some people actually recommend saying, “We need to talk,” to initiate a tough conversation, I’m saying ABSOLUTELY NOT! Not today, not in the future, not ever. No. No. No.

Unequivocally, saying “We need to talk” will send men running—the other direction.

If your mind keeps telling you to say these words, promise me you won’t let them across your lips to be spoken out loud.

I get that you might not believe me. And I will admit, I once used them, too. But over time, I learned these words inspire dread in the hearts of men of all ages. These words are a sounding alarm.

And here’s what that alarm signifies for men:                     We-need-to-talk

  • Be on guard. Bad news is on the way
  • Get ready for tears and emotions
  • This is not going to be pretty
  • You’re going to hear what you did wrong or didn’t do at all
  • This conversation will definitely last longer than you hope
  • You probably will have to talk about things you’d prefer not to discuss

A study at the University of Missouri found that boys have different feelings about time spent discussing problems than girls do. For boys “talking about problems makes them feel “weird” and feels like they are “wasting time.” It should come as no surprise this belief carries over into adulthood for guys.

shutdown

Constructive conversation has no chance now.

According to Good Men Know the Real Meaning of We Need to Talk  

“…when we hear those dreaded words, we “shut down” because we feel like the student in the class who hears his teacher say, “I need to see you after class.” When the teacher says that, we KNOW we are in trouble. And when you say, “We need to talk,” we know there is an issue you want to scold us about.

Rather than fall back on this familiar, but oh-so-wrong way to start a conversation with a man, try these guidelines instead:

  • If your intention is not resolution and understanding, don’t begin the talk
  • Don’t initiate “the conversation” if you aren’t ready to talk right then!
  • Check any “tone and attitude” at the door, or wait till you are attitude-free
  • Remember, serious, meaningful conversation doesn’t require drama and heaviness
  • Cut what you want to say in half
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Commit to yourself that you will identify some part of the issue as yours and own it…
  • Be prepared to move on when the conversation is done

When you’re set with all of the above, select a more neutral way to start your conversation than saying “WE NEED TO TALK!”

Instead, casually say things like:

  •     “Let’s talk about this”
  •     “Let’s talk this through real quick”
  •     “What are your thoughts on this?”
  •     “Really briefly, I want you to know how I feel about….,
  •     “Can you clarify something for me?
  •     “Unlike how I’ve been in the past, I just want to discuss this briefly.”
  •     “Real quick…I  think ___________. What about you?”

 

For a really powerful change, DON’T use an opener at all. Just say what you need to say. No long detailed, set-the-stage windup, no long dramatic lead in, just talk. Say it as succinctly, with as few sentences as possible and the least amount of detail to say what NEEDS to be said, getting right to the point. It’s called “boy talk.” If you get no response and the conversation calls for one, ask what his reaction is. Otherwise, say what needs to be said. Thank him for listening and be done.

Instead of having the conversation or your relationship blow up, you’ll blow your man’s mind because you were able to talk without making it into a movie melodrama or mini-series.

Stay tuned for more about “boy talk” and what that looks like. And as always, through a post or private message, let me know what you experience with this approach.

And, repeat after me, “I promise to never initiate a conversation with a man in my life with the words WE NEED TO TALK.”