Double negative

I have a hard time saying no. This is both an incredible strength, and a crippling weakness, both in work and in life.

It’s easy to pick out the emotional reasoning for me on this: I hate conflict, and have trouble handling when other people don’t accept me. This is a perilous course in some cases, especially as it pertains to relationships. Am I being honest, or merely taking the path of least resistance? I’ve done both. I want to be honest, all the time, but it’s something I’m learning.

The strength is that it makes me incredibly good at my job as a result, and valued in other things I pursue in. I need to be flexible for my work, and be able to change gears at a moment’s notice, not be stuck in what I’m doing right then. I’m the “walk-in” guy (sometimes more literally than I’d like, having an office closest to the door, but that’s only somewhat related), so saying “yes” in that makes me much more valuable.

This comes up a lot at work, with what I do. I often have to tell people that they can’t do things, and be firm but fair on why. Having a shared printer helps me on this. I’ll often leave the office to retrieve documents, but use the moments to script out the next few words in my head, or figure out how best to say “we can’t do it this way”. Again, I can’t deal well with conflict. I’m still learning.

One of the things I really enjoy about my job is that I can, sometimes, really help someone with their situation- so when the answer is “yes”, or I see something that will really help my client, then that’s incredibly rewarding for me. The “no”s can be hard- but the “yes”s are amazing.

Let’s get past the nine to five for a few moments. On the one hand, being able to say “yes” has stretched me and helped me grow in a lot of different ways. Is my answer “no” because I don’t want to, or “no” because I really can’t do it? If it’s the first, then a reluctant “yes” (or a “yes” because you want to make something work) can be a growing experience- especially for someone like me, who needs to stretch himself.

I often think about this in the context of parenthood. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood, but I watch friends who have children, and wonder how often they have to say “no” to something, when it’s in the child’s best interests. I wonder how I would handle it. When you love your child, but need to set boundaries.

Suddenly, the declined credit applications don’t look so hard.

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