As Thanksgiving nears, many holiday themes come to mind. Giving and gratitude are two of the most common thoughts this time of year, I believe. I’m a giver. I give of my time and I give of my “stuff”. It makes me happy, but that’s no secret. I’m equally as enamored with gratitude. Giving never feels complete without gratitude by its side. When I give, I thank the people who accept my time or my services or material items. I don’t thank them in order to get something back, but simply because it’s a gift to be accepted, and I appreciate that. I wish more people would remember that and show gratitude for the small things in life, like the mailman, for example. Rain, sleet, or snow, your mailman is there, bringing you your bills, Netflix movies, and gossip rags. How often do you thank them? Hmm…perhaps a note in the mailbox would work.
Sometimes people ask me when enough is enough. Have you ever gone overboard with giving? Strange question, I know, but an important one. We only have so much to give of ourselves—our time, or our energy. Going overboard has nothing to do with how much gratitude you receive in return for your generosity; it has to do with running out of fuel. I think you know you’ve gone overboard if you have no energy left for yourself.
I’ve written about our emotional buckets before, and the importance of rejuvenation of the emotional energy we expend, but I don’t think I’ve spoken about graceful ways to say “no”.
We all know that we can run ourselves ragged, and when we do, we can’t help others or ourselves. Below are a few tips for bowing out gracefully:
1. Honesty prevails: Lead with honesty. Friends are more likely to understand and accept if you begin with the truth. Overscheduled? Tired? Feeling used? Begin by telling them that you would love to help, but—then go straight for honesty. Creating false reasons to try and save hurt feelings will only lead to a need to cover your trail. Honesty is valued. Share it.
2. Offer other means of help: If you don’t have time to do something, offer other resources for the person to utilize. Direct them to sources that you trust.
3. Postpone. If a deadline is not critical, it’s okay to postpone, and sometimes it’s the wisest move. Never be in a hurry to give anything 50% effort. It’s also okay to use all three of these strategies, “I’m really overscheduled right now, but I’d love to help you next Friday, and if that doesn’t work, perhaps try Ihelpyoufakewebsite dot com.”
The bottom line is that you need to rejuvenate, and it’s hard to say no to a friend or colleague, but it’s also necessary. Be kind to yourself. Honor your need to regroup. You’ll be able to better serve others if you do.
I’d love to hear your tips for bowing out gracefully.