Just Say No.
It sounds so easy. You can have every intention in the world of saying no until you’re faced with the question. Those puppy dog eyes, judgemental snickers and guilt-tripping pleas suck you in. But that’s okay. You’re only human. However, being human means you only have a certain amount of energy and time in your day. For those with a chronic illness, often much less. It is unfair for you to be loading yourself up with chores, meetings or social situations. When you start putting others needs before your own, you will start getting worn down. When you get worn down, you will start flaring up and we do not want that! Luckily for you, there’s a magical word to get you out of all that. ‘No.’
Five simple rules
- Be firm – There is a reason you are saying no. Ensure you stick to your guns and do not give into any push back or guilt. Unfortunately being ill and needing rest time is out of your control. You must not feel guilty for this.
- Do not make up excuses – Tell the truth. A part truth is fine if you do not want to disclose all of your personal details. However, coming up with a completely different excuse is disrespectful and will lead to all forms of lies!
- Don’t put it off- If you know from the start it will be a no, do not drag it out. This gives people a false sense of hope and less time to plan accordingly.
- Smile – You don’t want to offend anyone, you just cannot manage this task / activity. Politely decline with a smile and you will be ensuring you meant no offense at all.
- Offer middle ground – You still want to maintain your relationship with this person. However, your illness will not ease up to make way for your plans. Instead propose a different time or a more suitable suggestion.
Sometimes things pop up around home that may require your assistance. Your family may need you to pick up an extra chore or deal with a situation that you are not feeling up to. Whether it is a supermarket trip, furniture reshuffling or your partner wants to invite friends around! You should feel comfortable enough with your family to discuss your illness. If you are having a particularly bad day maybe you could come up with a new game plan. Change the big house clean to a day after, dairy dash tonight and big shop tomorrow or your partner could go around to one of the other mates house for tonight. Having a chronic illness is exhausting and painful. Your family will be supportive enough to understand you need the rest. Just ensure you always give back when you’re feeling improved and allow that ‘Boys Poker Night.’
“Hey Honey, unfortunately I am having a bad flare up and I just need to rest. Would it be okay if you went round to *Insert friends name here* tonight and we can invite them over next weekend?”
“I’m sorry, but I just do not have the energy to make it to the supermarket tonight. I can quickly shoot down to the dairy for the milk and we can go shopping tomorrow night?”
“I think moving the house around is a great idea! However, I’m really not feeling up to it physically today. Would we be able to tackle this as a team on Saturday?”
With Close Friends
The amount of times I have had to cancel or reschedule plans is beyond my counting ability. With a chronic illness there is no scheduled clock for when your flare-ups strike at their worst. There is no pre-warning that you will suddenly not be able to get out of bed on Saturday morning for your plans. Fortunately there are a few special gems out there that offer understanding as a part of their friendship package. With your close friends that are aware of your illness you can just be upfront. Tell them you are having a bad day and will not be able to make it out. Sometimes you will be asked in advance to attend an event or hang out. Admit that you cannot completely commit due to how suddenly your flare-ups can arise. Your close friends will be thankful for your honestly.
“Thanks for inviting me out to dinner tonight! However, my chronic illness is playing up and I will be heading straight to bed for rest. I would love to reschedule for another night when I feel up to it though. Will this work for you?”
“What a lovely weekend it’s supposed to be for a hike. Unfortunately my body will not be able to handle something so physical. Maybe next weekend we could go for brunch instead? I hope you have a fantastic time though!”
“The food festival sounds like a fantastic day out, I would love to join! However, as you’re aware my chronic illness sometimes has bad patches that arise suddenly. If this happens I may need to stay in to rest. I will need to let you know closer to the time, would this be okay?”
Distant friends / Time restrictions
Declining invitations because of your health to someone who has no idea of your illness is a little more difficult. For this we need to simply offer no detailed excuse and politely decline. Examples of these scenarios may include a group trip to movies, offering your time/expertise to someone who needs advice or helping out with your child’s school open day.
Some of these scenarios can have nothing to do with your chronic illness and everything to do with your lack of time / energy. Likewise with above, we want to be honest and direct. We just simply cannot manage this into our schedules, or we have committed to spending the time with ourselves or family.
“Thanks for thinking of me to be your shopping buddy. However, I won’t be able to make it to the mall with you on Sunday. We’ve dedicated that to a much-needed family day. Can we reschedule?”
“How exciting that you’re getting a new CV put together. I would love to be able to help you with writing it, however my time is over-dedicated at the moment. I would be more than happy to be a character reference if you needed however. Best of luck!”
“Unfortunately this year I will not be able to help out with the Open Day. But please get in touch for any future events I may be able to contribute my time to.”
This one I will be taking in the opposite direction. As long as you love your job and there is mutual respect between you and the company. (If not please consider looking elsewhere, there is no point being stuck in a rut where you are undervalued or don’t enjoy what you’re doing.)
The direction being:
I want you to say YES.
You should be saying yes to your boss about new tasks, yes to your colleagues for assisting when they need it and yes to after work functions.
Yes is a word that can turn a job into your career. Yes is a word that shows commitment, dedication and a willingness to learn.
However, yes is also a word that requires time, energy and some reshuffling of your current workload. In some cases a yes will mean ‘No I cannot do it for you, but yes I can show you how to find the information your self.’ By taking this little time out of your day you have given someone the tools to access and work the information as required in future. Leaving you freed up, with some brownie points and your colleague with a new skill. It’s important to never just ‘do’ someone’s work for them unless absolutely required under special circumstances. You will then just become the ‘go-to’ when things are a bit tough and they need an easy answer.
Work events offer a great chance to get to know your colleagues more and strengthen your relationship. Who knows, you may find someone in the office with a talent that will come in handy to you later on! Having that connection there means you can offer each other a helping hand when needed. They also provide a few background stories about the company and little inside tidbits.
” Thank-you *Employers name here* for this opportunity. It means a lot that you would consider me for this next step and I would be honored to accept.”
” Yes, I will put together the report on *xyz.* What timeframe did you require this by? I am currently working on *abc* but can reshuffle if you need.”
“Thank-you for the invite to drinks after work tonight. I will come for one, however I must then get home to my family. Lord knows what will happen if I let my husband cook for the kids!”
(Sometimes the situation can be lightened with humor. Although still honest as you do need to be tending to your family on a school night.)
“I don’t have time to run the report for you right now. However I can show you how to run it in five minutes if that works for you? Then you can manipulate the data as you require and use in the future.”
In all honesty we need to say no to prevent a system overload!
However the way we go about this needs to be honest, direct and above all, respectful.
Read over the five rules of saying no above and stick to them.
Let me know how you get on!
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