Saying NO is good manners

It wasn’t as if I was jilted at the altar. But hanging on for weeks for an answer…. asking colleagues (who are waiting for me to complete a task that is on hold) to wait for the same answer…. putting my reputation and work ethic on the line while I wait for the same G-D- answer… is just plain not good manners.

I’ve put off daily blogging(*) for a couple of days because I was a little more than disappointed on Friday. I also had an orchestra concert and needed to focus my energy on listening, breathing, and phrasing delicate Tchaikovsky passages and a super low C. Venting frustrations on the career reflections blog would have to wait until I had a better thinking space – Sunday morning.

Here’s the story.
Recruiting vendors to sell food at a festival takes a lot of stewardship. It takes knowing which people to ask from local restaurants and local organizations. It also takes building trust with them and encouraging them to fill out a lot of paperwork required of our fair city. (Man, I can rant about redundant paperwork created from a fear of litigation… FOCUS, Silagh.) Bottom line: it takes an extraordinary amount of time.

The opportunity to earn/raise money by selling food at a festival sounds good, in theory. The reality is that it’s an extra burden on restaurants or non-profits to either hire or recruit more workers to make and sell the food. Working festivals is hard labor, no doubt about it. Even sharing information at a festival for any non-profit is work. An organization has to recruit people to cheerfully represent your mission, and have good material to share.

I get it – festivals are hard work for people. But what festival planners really need, are people who can say “no” sooner than later. Here’s an article that motivated this post:

Huffington Post article:
Huffington Post article:

My highlights:

  1. We seem to have become a nation of wafflers and avoiders, carefully evading even the most quotidian confrontation….
  2. Bohns’s studies …have suggested that “it can ultimately be more effort to say ‘no’ politely than to just go ahead and do whatever was asked,”
  3. The rise of digital communication has inarguably disrupted the classic etiquette of the white lie and the polite evasion. “I would say that millennials are more likely to say ‘no’ because they are less likely to make and receive requests face-to-face,” says Bohns. 
  4. But what does saying “no” actually mean in this context? When most of our conversations take place via email, text and social media, rejection can be as simple as failing to respond — a strategy that’s painfully rude when someone is standing in front of you, asking you for something. “Most of the people we counted as ‘no’s’ in our email study simply didn’t respond,” [emphasis is mine]

The article focuses more on saying “no” in the context of dating. But the relevant point remains. We need to say “no” when our instinct tells us that saying “yes” will mean stress for ourselves and others. Having a clear understanding of what “yes” means to personal schedules, and the burden we will ask of others already sits in our gut. We need to honor that.

I also have a problem with saying “no.” The consequences I suffer usually means doing what I don’t really have time to do because I didn’t say no. I don’t want to disappoint the other person. Too often, not saying “no,” puts stress on the relationship as well. The other person waits for me to deliver what I agreed to do. This rant is to myself as much as it is to the anonymous reader of this post.

“No” has its place. If it’s your job to do it, say “yes.” If you are supposed to uphold the law to do it, (I’m thinking about you, crazy county clerk in Kentucky – and no, I won’t mention her name because I think she’s on a rant for attention and not the greater good) say, “yes,” or resign. If you want to do it, have time to do it, and can share the joy of doing it, by all means, say “yes.”

Saying “no” will not make friends become enemies. A delayed “no” may cause more stress than you think.

“No” is more polite than no response at all.

And for the people who said “yes” to being a vendor at the event – I will do whatever I can to make the experience worth their time and energy. Because I am fully aware of the sacrifice they are making to be a part of a wonderful, extraordinary, and a once in lifetime day.


(*) to make up for two lost days, I have back up blogs ready to write in drafts and hope to get caught up later this evening. After the Blood Moon, of course. Priorities, people!


One thought on “Saying NO is good manners

  1. My mother, who is too shy to post because she doesn’t want to appear to be correcting me would say: “If you can’t say no, how valuable is your yes?”

    She’s awesome in the advise, and the gentle way in which she comments on my blog via private FB message. The advise is just too good to keep to myself.

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