Today I share another printable poster and card. They are a kind reminder that you need to say NO sometimes. More No’s will free up margins to say YES whole-heartedly to things that really matter to you! You can’t be everything to everyone. Don’t try. Be bold and decide to say no more often to keep balanced and sane. Carefully mind your precious time and commit only to things that are important to you.
For a long time, I didn’t realize that I have a hard time saying no. But I tend to be a people-pleaser and while I can easily say no if I’m invited to something I struggle to stick to no if people try to talk me into something. Unfortunately, that way I have often done things I didn’t feel comfortable doing at all just because someone talked me into them.
I learned I needed to make a change when I was a course supervisor at the university.
I instructed a group of ten students doing basic experiments. It was actually an easy job. Except for one weird person in the group. The other students avoided her and told me she was crazy. For example, she always touched the walls with one finger walking down the corridors and would talk to herself. Monk-ish!
Students had to submit protocols after each day and were allowed to write a group protocol. They took turns but when it came to that girl they would hand me over an extra protocol of theirs. They didn’t want to put their names on a protocol she had written. Ok. More work for me, but totally ok. They could have handed over ten protocols, so two were still great!
Until I sat down to go through them. … Ouch… The group protocol was nice like always. But the manuscript of that girl was beyond words!! I had no idea where to start correcting this thing. She had cut out sentences from the instruction manual with a scissor and glued them onto paper. Then she had added some handwritten notes and hand-drawn graphics. Obviously, she didn’t plan her graphics as some ended up being tiny, others too large for one sheet of paper so she had glued extensions of paper to the page.
I was speechless and didn’t understand how she managed to graduate school and enter university.
I couldn’t let her pass. Not based on her performance in the course.
Me, failing, badly – because I didn’t say No
The final day came and the students had to get my signature to pass. Of course, she would come to my office and expected me to sign her papers. I told her I was not happy with her performance and would like to do a quick test and ask her a few things about the course to see if she learned anything. We sat down and it was painful. She wouldn’t answer my first questions so I made them a bit easier. She still struggled. She started crying. She seemed to be shortly before a nervous breakdown. I tried to calm her down and made it even easier for her. I suggested she could draw or write something if she wasn’t comfortable with talking right now.
That made her even more cry. I felt helpless. She started to explain that this was so important for her, that she studied hard and never missed a class, and she even brought her mother and her best friend who were waiting outside.
I considered getting rid of this problem by sending her to the professor and let him decide. But I didn’t want to look like an overwhelmed loser (which I totally was!) and decided I needed to handle this on my own.
My questions got easier and easier. We suffered through this somehow. Finally, I signed her certificate and let her move on.
I felt unhappy because I was sure she was not made for this. She would never graduate or pass an oral exam. She only blocked an university place for someone more capable. But I felt sorry for her and wanted to be kind. So unprofessional! I was relieved when she left.
The Light Bulb Moment – I should have said no
A few moments later a colleague came to me asking what I had done to that girl. Why I asked. He said she stands outside and bitches about the totally mean and stupid instructor that had made it so hard for her!
Thanks. But that was a wake-up call.
I learned I had no leadership skills. And that I needed to work on saying No.
Take these printables as a reminder. You can print in 8.5 x 11 inch size or a full letter size poster in pdf format. Use the jpg file for digital crafting or to send in a message.
Do you need to say no more often? Did you ever had a moment of clarity and learned that No would have been the right answer?