Tag Archives: positive attitude

Saying NO to saying yes – a Survival Guide

7 May

There are two types of people in the world – those who say “no” and those who say “yes” as a matter of upbringing, personality, habit, or need for acceptance.

Stereotypically, the people who say “yes” are women who were raised to go with the flow, be service-oriented, don’t rock the boat, and the best one – take care of others before you take care of yourself.  Many of us learned and believed that the latter was our lot in life playing a support role to the world.

One of the most powerful self-care words in the English language is the word “no” (even when your first inclination is to still say “yes”) because it allows one the space to consider our own wants and needs first (which is the way it always should have been) before accepting the needs of another to override.  Much of my adult life has been spent saying yes: yes to children, yes to a spouse, yes to volunteer roles, yes to school, yes to friends, yes to everyone – and, no to myself.

In some ways, it is dishonest (and poor communication) to say yes, when no is what we really need to say (to survive!)

Finally, having read enough survival guides, I realize that “no” is a critical survival technique that should be taught to girls (especially!) and boys everywhere – we only have one life and one person (me) who will take the care to make sure our needs are actually met.  Everyone else wants to make sure their needs are met first!

But for every opinion, there is someone who dissents…

It comes as no surprise that the number of opinions in society at least equals the number of blogs online (gazillions!), but today’s post from a blog I read weekly took me aback.  You can read it yourself by clicking on the image below:

WOW – how completely opposite!!!  (But not surprising when you consider the writer is male.)

When you read the outlined paragraph, it falls along the lines of how I believe that my generation (end of the boomers) in North Americans are raised: boys were raised to take care of themselves, and girls were raised to take care of – well – everyone (except themselves).

In other words females are raised to put others first (in John’s blurb above:  “What’s in it FROM me”) to our detriment.  As a habit, putting others first without consideration of how it will affect one’s own (mental, physical or emotional) health is sheer suicide!  As a matter of survival, saying “no” more often allows us to be 1. Honest with what we can or cannot do; and 2. survivors by saying (finally!) “what’s in it FOR me.”

Having grown up with three brothers, I also saw that the natural tendency was for boys to be raised with the right survival mechanism – in boy scouts the mantra was “be PREPARED” or in other words, take care of yourself first (what’s in it FOR me.)

Why is there gender inequality?  Who knows?  But the best way forward is for everyone (regardless of gender) to take care of their own needs first (see Put on your Own Mask first) so that NO is an option, and not rotely saying YES and regretting it.

What do you think?

Related posts:

I “no” you’ll find a way to have a good week!




Empathy without experience?

10 May

Anyone who’s been following the US economy knows that the “recovery” is tentative and more and more Americans continue to lose their jobs and/or are in financial stress.  In decades past, it used to be easy to dismiss those without work as unlucky, unambitious or even lazy.  But no longer.  Losing a job is no longer an anomaly as professionals coast-to-coast continue to find themselves out of work and often out for a lengthy period.

As a business owner whose workload has been up and down over the years, I’ve had great years and not so great years and I know only too well what is meant by feast or famine.  What I wonder today is just how many Americans can truly have empathy with those who are financially strapped through no fault of their own – unless they’ve been in the same place in the past.  As I attend various Tampa Bay events (sometimes as a volunteer) – I notice that there is a widening gap between those whose lives have changed little during this recession and have kept their jobs and their steady incomes.  The black tie and charity events continue to attract a good attendance and I’ve seen more money that usual spent in the past six months than I’ve seen before.

At the same time, I also know of many colleagues and friends who are grappling with the lowest incomes in decades and who are no longer the spring chickens they were when they started their business. The recession has dramatically reduced not only their steady incomes but often also their assets and the amount of years they plan to work before retirement.  Well qualified professionals who were once secure in their jobs have dipped into their retirement funds, taken out home equity lines of credit, and severely curtailed their spending. And despite all the belt-tightening and their fervent job searches, many professionals remain out of work and increasingly out of hope.

These two seemingly different groups were once a single unified workforce and many of those employed today but for the grace of god could as easily be alongside their professional peers on the unemployment line. Yet, I don’t see a level of empathy that one would expect from those who are lucky enough to have been unaffected by the economic downturn.  Which leaves me to wonder – can one have true empathy without experience?  Can someone who has never experienced financial strife identify with someone who does? Can a person empathize with another when you’ve never been in their position?   I’ve noticed that it is commonplace to say “I can imagine how hard it must be” or “I know how you feel” when there is no real empathy in place at all.

Our members of congress are unfortunately, some of these such people. It is easy to feign “commiserating” when you have a four year steady job without a chance of furlow. And, when some of our representatives vote to pass laws, many times the legislation involved will not affect them because they are exempt.  I believe that empathy is possible, but without a stake in the outcome of any situation, it is easy to feign empathy without really caring.

What do you think?  If you’re earning the same or more these days, take a moment out of your day to empathize and perhaps provide some relief (and hope) to those who are not so fortunate. After all, next month or next year, it could be you, and if that happens, I guarantee that you’ll be looking for empathy from those who were just like you.


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

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