Erin: Well this conversation is starting off in a happy place. What does that even mean?
Ellen: I am drowning in “back to school.” It’s all flooding in: the schedules, the homework, and worst of all, the requests for my time filling up my inbox. My summer only ended 15 minutes ago, but my plate is piled so high, it looks like a Biggest Loser contestant fell off the wagon.
Erin: I hear you. I ‘m still pouring sand out of my shoes while trying to dole out sandwiches and loose leaf.
But I have two words for you. Nancy Reagan.
Ellen: I’m giving YOU two minutes to explain your ridiculous self. Go.
Erin: Think Nancy Reagan circa 1986. Think red dress. Nancy sitting on the couch with President Reagan imploring millions of kids to “Just Say No”. . .
Ellen: To drugs. You get that she was talking about drugs; which is what I’m going to need if you don’t get to the point soon. Do you realize you just made a 26 year old reference? More importantly, how is this related to my overloaded schedule?
Erin: You really need a better appreciation of the classics. I’m saying to channel your inner Nancy and just say “No”.
Ellen: I’m going to channel something in a minute, but you did get my brain churning again. Man, I am rusty from the summer. But YOU don’t even remember that you’ve already shared the “How to Say No” technique that, no joke, changed my life.
Erin: Hold on there, Sister, I’m not sure I can stand all this love. But what are YOU talking about?
Ellen: Why do you never embrace the GENIUS of this technique? It is a SCRIPT for saying “No”! It brilliantly removes the awkward!
Erin: I guess I’m just so used to using it.
Ellen: Okay, I’ll give you that. When you’ve been foolish enough to display competence in distributing Goldfish crackers and juice boxes like we have, you get placed on the “Call to Volunteer” short list.
Erin: If only all the volunteer jobs were that easy. Don’t get me wrong, I support volunteering, but maybe not everything is worthy of my time…
Ellen: Oh, I hear ya. Chairing the dunk tank at the school carnival? I’m there!
Erin: Selling Girl Scout cookies? Meh, I’ll do it.
Ellen: Knitting scooper cozies for underprivileged dog walkers? Pretty sure I’m busy until three weeks past forever.
Erin: We jest, but that’s why you have to slip into that Nancy alter-ego once in a while. While most of what we get asked to do is very worthwhile. . .
Ellen: And it’s usually asked by people we highly respect. . .
Erin: We still only have 24 hours in our day like everyone else.
Ellen: That is why this technique is so magical. It shows respect while still making it clear that you really mean no. There’s nothing worse as a chairperson than being strung along with maybes and half-hearted commitments.
Erin: Well, I can think of a couple of worse things….
Ellen: Save it for another post. I AM going to embrace the genius and present without further ado. . .
How To Channel Your Nancy and Graciously Say “No”
1. Thank the person. (We know, right!) “Thank you for asking me to knit scooper cozies.”
- We definitely don’t want you to be insincere, but this generally stuns people into silence.
2. Compliment them. “You do such a great job of making sure dog walkers are comfortable and stylish.”
- Once again, sincerity is key. This person probably does need to be thanked. They are giving their time for something they believe in.
3. Compliment them again and then just say no. “And while you do such a wonderful job, I must say no because I don’t have the time to devote to your project.”
- This is to the point, honest, and does not leave any wheedle room.
(Also in picture ebook form for your viewing pleasure and studying ease. Go ahead and flip through it. You owe it to yourself. It’s fast and funny and won’t take you away from this site.)
Ellen: No more hemming and hawing! No more stumbling over excuses! And more importantly, no more looking like or feeling like a donkey diaper for saying no.
Erin: But the key to making this part of your arsenal is to practice.
Ellen: Stop laughing because we are not kidding. Every good actor has to practice her script. Those words have to roll off of your tongue for them to be sincere and to not leave further room for begging.
Erin: Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go call my sister and see if SHE appreciates my Nancy Reagan reference.
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski