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Why Can't I Say No?

Me, probably contemplating something deep... #painteddesert

Yesterday my daughter and I were leaving the mall and it happened...again.

No, I'm not talking about impulse control issues (that's for another post).  I'm talking about "them".

Those people who have the kiosks in the middle of the mall and try to sell you all manner of God knows what.  You know who they are...

I told my daughter to walk to the other side of the kiosk so I could avoid the inevitable, "excuse me, can I ask you a question?" kiosk-seller pick-up line.  My daughter wrinkled her nose and looked at me disapprovingly and asked, "why don't you just tell them no?"

Why indeed...

This morning, I got an unsolicited sales email from some guy at a bank who wants to come set up a table at our company to promote his banking products.  "Partnership opportunities" he called them.  I groaned and almost hit reply to tell him thanks but no thanks.  But I didn't.  

He had name-dropped, referencing another colleague (as if that makes it all okay) so I wondered for a moment if she referred him to me.  I debated ways to reply and couldn't think of anything that didn't sound rude.  Because why shouldn't anyone just be able to come in here and try to sell our employees helpful stuff?  We let Sam's and Costco do it once a year...how is this any different?  So without a policy  or precedent to shield me, I did nothing.  My current plan is to just leave it and hope he doesn't send a follow up email.

Why can't I just say no?

Pretty AND Prickly...maybe there's a lesson here #sedona

Sometimes I console myself with the belief that it's just because I was brought up to be polite (or was it compliant?).  I was conditioned that it's not okay to be disagreeable or to make other people upset, which, when learned at an early enough age, pretty much means you conclude that you shouldn't have an opinion and that other people's wants matter more than yours.


But at my age, have I really not been able to get past that?  

I don't always avoid saying no.  On occasion, I've successfully told other people that I'm just not available or that I have other plans already.  I've even managed to tell a few telemarketers that I'm not interested and please take me off their list.  Baby steps...

But to be honest, unless there's a really clear "out", it's hard.  I've avoided flat out telling an acquaintance (for years!) that I'm just not interested in her direct marketing products.  I kept hoping she would get the hint (but so far, she hasn't).  I have avoided telling a former employee no when they asked me if they could use me as a reference.  I couldn't think of a way to tell them that I didn't really think they were a great employee in the first place, so all I said was "sure"...and responded to the reference in as generic and neutral sounding way as I could.

Should I have told her she was terrible?  Isn't that...well, mean?
#bellrocksedona Maybe I need to take a lesson from this rock: be immovable!

I guess that's one thing that still needs a lot of work in my life.  Being able to say no, with or without a good reason.  Perhaps figuring out a way to get over the fear that maybe they will think badly of me.  Rejecting the idea that my character is on the line.  Reminding myself that I actually don't owe most people a complete explanation.  "No" should be enough.  

But because it's me..."no thank you".  

Maybe I'll respond to that email now...

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