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Learning to Say "No"

Posted August 8, 2011 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

It’s funny how some of us need the same advice over and over and over again. But what’s even more interesting is the point when it finally kicks in. This concept has always been difficult for me. I didn’t want to let people down, I wanted to appear eager and excited and able. Saying “no” just wasn’t an option. Over and over again, my friends, colleagues and supervisors had to give me the advice in that post – just say no!

Today, a friend and blog reader approached me about an opportunity to volunteer with a networking group here in Chicago. I looked at the website, got a little excited, but a voice inside me immediately said, “You don’t have time for this.” Two years ago, I would have signed up, agreed to do it, and months later collapsed into a crying mess on my living room floor because I hadn’t had time that week to do anything but work and volunteer. I guess I’ve come a long way when I immediately recognized that my plate is full.

One of the pieces of advice I posted two years ago has been instrumental in my learning curve of this concept. “Think of your ideas and thoughts as proprietary information.” And now, go even a step further. Think of your time as proprietary. Giving your ideas and your time to someone or something is giving a piece of you away. Ask yourself if you’re being fairly compensated in dollars, fulfillment or excitement for those ideas and that time. You only have so much to give. And right now, with a new job and already failing to find time for a number of organizations I care about, I know the right answer is, “No.” Funny how long it took me to learn that.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."