I was in a meeting today where people said no: is that allowed?

I was in a meeting today where people said no: is that allowed?

I load up on caffeine, sugar and motivation. That is my daily ritual. I go to meetings, I get stuff done and the proverbial pat on the back is more handed tasks to take on. Im good st what I do. Because I am a jill of all trades, I humbly (or not) note that I am really good at a lot of things. I am smart, quick-witted and personable and can type a 100 words per minute. I jest, of course. Overall, I get a lot of things done. At lunch today, my friend noted that I am plainly nuts. She likes to chill on the weekends; while I “like” to take on a hundred more projects. Food for thought.

After my lunch, I was on a teleconference with a group of academics with whom I serve on an executive committee. We were considering board nominations. The process soon became a session of virtual hot potato. Who could be vice-chair? “Not I” was the general chorus. One by one they noted they had other commitments already lined up. I was astonished. Since when does having other commitments stop one from taking on new ones? In the blink of a telephone-call eye, I had entered a world I didn’t recognize.

They were all firm in their stated “Nos”. I felt my lips turn up into a pout and frown. You know that look that is all the rage these days. While, part of me was impressed that they could so easily say no, part of me was flabbergasted how quickly they could do so. I now hold three extra committee positions because I did not say no. Specifically, I found myself in situations where there truly was no other person left standing. In those situations I then consented to being the representative of the group carrying the mission forward.

I readily admit I say yes to a lot of commitments. The thing is I tend to follow through. I am not one of those that says “yes” to everybody and then cannot be found. If I say yes, I mean it. I find a way to complete my commitments. The trick to saying yes or not saying no is finding ways that actions play into and build off of each other. Its creating a life layering system. It’s your life, should things not play into each other?

In a way, my life is a symphony. Each part harmonizes with the other. If you say yes to random requests, life may very well become a cacophony. I have been fortunate, in that respect. My activities, and thus what I agree to do, are in harmony with one another. When I say “yes” I am harmonizing my life instrumentation. Of course, I must be aware of when too many tasks (or in this analogy- life’s instruments) become too much to realistically take on. The worse thing to do to other colleagues is to agree to do something and totally fail to follow through. At the end of the day, integrity must take root in our being and be in harmony with our day-to-day actions.




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22 replies »

  1. I think it is allowed. What I got to thinking was that there are different motivations for saying no. For example, based on your description above you would only say no if you were 500% certain you couldn’t meet the commitment.
    Where as the others might be saying no to allow them to list all of the more important things they have to do. Not that I have ever seen this done. ;-0


  2. I say No all the time. People hate it. I do say Yes, but mostly No. I think saying no is valuable. I also think we should know WHY we’re choosing No over Yes, for ourselves.


  3. Throughout my entire academic career and now “real” career I always had the luxury of being to take on less so that I could devote 110% to everything. Rather than spreading myself thin I prefer to do one thing at a time and give it all iv got!


  4. I know it was hard for me to say no sometimes especially when it came to work. I’m glad that I can say no if I can’t handle a certain project or that I need some time off for myself.


  5. There is a time and place for “no”, as long as it isn’t just shirking responsibility. Unfortunately in most of the meetings I attend at work you don’t get asked, but rather “volunteered”.


  6. My last comment on your last post was, “More power to you.” I now feel I’ve been responsible for your not saying, “No.” Let me know if you felt that extra power wished upon you.


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