Saying no isn’t always easy, but it’s an important skill in creating a life balance. When you’re juggling the demands of your work and home life, your ability to say no enables you to preserve your state of balance. You’ve got to define the limits of what you’ll accept and tolerate from other people.
For example, Jen asks Neil, Consuela, and Ruth to work late to meet a deadline. Let’s examine how each one responds.
Neil’s inability to set limits with his vague “Sure, I guess” marks his behavior as passive. Passive people typically give in to others to avoid argument or confrontation. They tend to be reserved and oftentimes appear shy. Being passive is an easy option to take, but it’s not helpful. You end up taking on too much, you don’t set your limits, and you put your balance at risk.
Consuela’s reply of “You’ve got to be kidding. No way!” is characteristic of aggressive behavior. Aggressive people use anger, rudeness, and a raised voice to intimidate others and get what they want. Being aggressive is as bad as being passive. You may be able to set your limits this way, but you can and probably will damage your relationships.
Ruth asserts herself by saying “I understand the importance of meeting the deadline, but the fact that I haven’t had any notice of this means that I’m not in a position to get cover for my children today. I’m sorry but I won’t be able to stay late this time.” Ruth’s respectful and rational response is typical of assertive people who try to achieve their goals without alienating anyone.
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