Stress Prevention in a Word - "No"
We teach our pets the meaning of the word. We quickly learned
its meaning as toddlers when we reached for mommy or daddy's car
keys. Even an anti-drug campaign was built around the word. Yet,
now that we're older, wiser and more responsible, the word
struggles to break free from our own lips when we need to use it
the most. That word? "No".
Just saying "no" is essential in dealing with, managing, and
even preventing stress. Knowing your limitations can prevent you
from digging yourself into holes when you realize you can't live
up to the commitment you took on.
It's funny, when we were children, no diplomacy was required.
Little Joey would decide that our favorite toy was to become
communal property, without our prior notification. When he
grabbed for our precious play-thing, "no" just seemed to flow
from our lips, and if that didn't do it, we added about 5 more
no's . How easy it was back then.
Of course, just saying "no" (and nothing else) to your boss is
not wise when they drop one more project on your desk -- adding
to the 5 they've already given you. Just saying "no" can be
mistaken as subordination. More diplomacy is required!
But, there's a point when we can only take on so much. In order
to prevent stress, we have to know our limitations.
What if my performance on the job, reputation amongst co-workers
and friends is unfairly based on one instance of "just saying
no"? ============================ If you are known for being a
responsible and reliable person, people tend to take you more
seriously when you just can't do something for them. Your
reputation of integrity and reliability won't disappear in a
"poof" of smoke if you say no to one request.
One thing I never hesitate to do is let people know the exact
reasons why I have to turn down a request -- essential when
refusing a request from people over you in authority.
Doesn't the pile of work in my in-box say I can't take another
assignment? ============================ Having a desk with
piles of work doesn't say you're busy - it just says you're
unorganized or possibly inefficient - and that you need time
management and organization help!
Think of yourself as a manufacturing plant
============================ Treat your schedule as importantly
as the job schedule in a manufacturing plant. A plant production
manager always knows what needs to get done, what's been
accomplished and would never increase production if the workers
can't keep up with the workflow. It would look bad on their
ability to manage the workers, the employees would get
disgruntled and the inability to fulfill orders would erode the
company's integrity and reputation.
One idea to clue others in to your current work load is to keep
a very visible dry marker board near your desk or in your
office. Use it to write down the tasks or projects you're
working on. Check off the items completed and leave the one's
yet to be finished on the board until you've done them. Add new
requests to the board as they come in. A visible check-list will
keep you from procrastinating on simple tasks -- acting as a
constant reminder. And, you might deter someone from giving you
another project if it's obvious you've already got more than you
Pass the buck when the buck needs passing
============================ If your task and assignment list is
built from internal office assignments and a new request comes
in from your supervisor, use their authority to your favor.
Allow them to adjust your priority list for you. Allow them to
bump a project or move back it's deadline. If necessary, allow
your supervisor to take responsibility for promises you can't
keep to others (if they are the reason that you can't). If you
do that -- it is very important that others are notified of the
schedule or deadline changes and that the changes were made by
those in authority over you. This will relieve you of
unnecessary pressure and stress. Is this passing the buck? If
you were in a car accident that was clearly not your fault,
knowing all of the implications that go along with
responsibility, would you take the blame for it? Probably not.
The same should hold true for less complicated situations.
Put yourself in their shoes ============================ What if
you ordered a product as a holiday gift -- if it didn't arrive
in time because the company couldn't meet the demand of orders,
wouldn't you rather them be upfront and honest and tell you no
-- that they can't delivery the gift in time? Think about how
upset you would be! Think about how upset others would be if you
took on more than you can handle and didn't have the time or
energy to fulfil the request.
Maybe that anti-drug campaign slogan "Just Say No" should get a
new face for the 21st century. Instead of bumper stickers, maybe
it should be printed on coffee mugs or flash as screen savers.
And if we find ourselves still struggling to say no when we've
already maxed out our to-do list, maybe we can just add it to
the to-do list as priority number one.