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The mouse that roared

(58 Posts)
Apricity Mon 15-Apr-19 22:33:47

This thread has arisen out of a discussion on another thread about difficulties some of us have saying 'no' to requests. The focus is on empowering ourselves and learning to say 'no' when we want to say 'no' in response to requests from family, friends or people from our local community or workplace without feeling obligated, pressured or guilty.

Another poster called herself a 'mouse' and a people pleaser and expressed the wish to be able to say 'no' more often and more comfortably. This thread is about empowering the mouse and cultivating the inner lion.

My own response is a simple "No, it's not convenient.", repeated if necessary without explanations, excuses or apologies. I do try to always be pleasant and polite but quite firm. We will all have different ways of doing this and the thread is a chance for sharing these and discussing options, strategies and personal experiences.

Over to you Grans.

MaudLillian Sat 04-May-19 23:01:49

I have no problem refusing requests. The only request I never turn down, if it's at all possible to grant it, is the request to look after my granddaughter for a couple of hours. That request could come a lot more often and I'd still say yes!

Florence64 Sun 21-Apr-19 17:12:36

I have a friend who's life seems to jump from one drama to the other. I have done a lot of work on a family matter for her and not expected any payment. She did take me out to lunch and that was fine. Trouble is she only seems to contact me if she wants something. She's one of those people who will say she couldn't possibly afford to go out on a girl's night with a few of us and feed her children that week, but the next week she is buying new bedding - curtains, bedding, cushions, the lot! She's always posting on social media about who her 'real' friends are, i.e. those who respond to her dramatic posts about her being 'very ill' or one of her pets being ill. She's got several cats, two of whom got pregnant recently, which I think is irresponsible, but she thinks it's funny. I don't know how she affords it. None of this would I mind (except I am concerned about the cats) but her constant pleading poverty is somewhat grating. I reckon she's completely re-decorated her living room - wallpaper, curtains, sofas etc; 3 or 4 times in the past 5 years and we are only just getting round to replacing our 20 year old sofa and curtains! The trouble is I do really like her and she can be good fun. I just find all the drama rather attention seeking and I know if I am not constantly responding to these posts I am being judged as not as good a friend as those who do. Perhaps this is true?

hdh74 Sat 20-Apr-19 18:06:37

I find my mouth saying yes even when my brain is saying no sometimes!

Starlady Sat 20-Apr-19 16:02:17

I'm a very giving person and usually happy to help, especially if it involves my dd and gc. However, I think if we choose to s. ay no, we don't owe the other person an explanation. It's nice to give a brief reason, but "That won't work for me," etc, should be enough. Imo, if the other person argues with my answer, they are just trying to coerce me into doing their will, so Iv learned not to get dragged into any further discussion. They're not trying to understand or figure out a compromise, they are trying to get their way. So if it's no, it's no, with maybe a brief explanation, and then I change the subject or end the conversation. I wasn't always able to do this - not boasting. It wasn't easy to do at first, I admit. But I've learned.

sodapop Sat 20-Apr-19 13:30:43

Someone was talking to me today and said " stop me if I'm boring you " I wanted to say "stop" so much but bit my tongue .

Afeica33 Sat 20-Apr-19 10:34:08

I always remind myself that No is a complete sentence!!

I have no hesitation these days saying it, think it may just come with age grin

Sara65 Wed 17-Apr-19 21:46:37

As to saying sorry, my husband has pointed out that I shouldn’t have apologised to someone after a slight accident in my car, really not my fault! But it just tripped of my tongue, along with enquires as to if they were alright, and not to worry, it’s only a car!

Sara65 Wed 17-Apr-19 21:41:20

i think it’s two different things. If I can help my family and friends in any way I will, and do so gladly.
But I’m quite tough about saying no to things I don’t want to do, or people I don’t want to spend time with. I haven’t always been like this, I’ve spent many boring evenings with people I’m not interested in, and years trying to get along with some family members, saying no, is incredibly liberating, my husband, who is obviously nicer than me, has kept up the friendships, but I have opted out, and I’ve never regretted it

Day6 Wed 17-Apr-19 18:41:43

Oh janeainsworth that list made me laugh out loud! grin

Some of them are so ridiculous but we still apologise! Forwarded to AC and a few friends!

Urmstongran Wed 17-Apr-19 18:07:48

Such good tips on here! I like the idea of ‘I’ll get back to you’. Giving me time to think it through. I find it easier to be asked by text too rather than being put on the spot.

janeainsworth Wed 17-Apr-19 16:59:26

Day6 we can’t help it, we’re Britishgrin

Day6 Wed 17-Apr-19 16:44:08

Ha ha. Good point! Why do we always say "sorry" - when it isn't our fault?

Day6 Wed 17-Apr-19 16:42:11

I tend to accommodate people if I possibly can, especially my AC and our DGC.

I often find myself going to events I'd rather not go to, (I am a bit of a home bird) but because friends asked I make the effort. I usually find I am glad I didn't make an excuse and I think getting out of our comfort zone is also a bonus to being agreeable.

If I really cannot do something I will say so. I have lately realised I don't always have to provide the reasons why, but I usually do.

I must learn some polite but firm stock phrases for refusal.

gillybob Wed 17-Apr-19 16:29:20

There is no way I could take anything back to a counter without saying sorry (although I do get that I shouldn't be the person complaining about the cold coffee who should be apologising) . I think it is just in our nature that we do apologise for almost everything.

humptydumpty Wed 17-Apr-19 16:18:53

I can recommend "A Woman in Your Own Right" by Anne Dickenson - though when I read it I stumbled at the first hurdle, couldn't do the exercise (at home!) taking coffee back to a counter because it's cold, and not saying sorry'!

gillybob Wed 17-Apr-19 09:52:14

I find it very difficult to ever say "no" to anyone who asks/demands my time. I rarely (if ever) ask for a favour in return as I am pretty sure that if I did I would only end up disappointed.

When my phone rings and or a text pings and I see the caller name, I can guess what is coming and it is never, "hi how are you"? its almost always "can you or will you" . I have even practised saying "sorry, no I can't" but whilst the words are in my head they never quite make it into my mouth ! confused

Barmeyoldbat Wed 17-Apr-19 09:42:44

Bradfordlass a real friend would realise the strain she is putting on a friend by asking all the time. We can still help by saying no and encouraging them to do it themselves.

Elegran Wed 17-Apr-19 09:23:18

If it were about being selfish, then we would do nothing for anyone, ever - we all know people like that! We also all know people who commit to doing everything for everyone who asks, and end up burnt out.

Sometimes immediate family pay the cost of such assiduousness to all. Have you read "A song for Issy Bradley"? The pastor in that is so much at the beck and call of his parishioners, driving people to appointments, filling in forms for them, doing things for everyone, that he is not free to grieve with his wife at the death of their child. Everyone is so used to his immediate attention that it doesn't occur to them to do it themselves or find someone else to ask

sodapop Wed 17-Apr-19 08:34:24

Totally right Apricity It's not about being selfish at all.

Apricity Wed 17-Apr-19 04:58:51

BradfordLass, the discussion is not about selfishly only doing things we want to do versus not doing things we don't want to do. That is not the point at all. There will be many occasions when we are all asked to do things that we don't particularly like doing, the timing is not good, we are busy etc. but we do it. The discussion is about feeling confident that we have the right to refuse a request as well as the right to accept a request because we care about our friend, family member, community issue etc, not because we feel guilty, pressured or obligated to do so.

Being able to say 'no' does not negate that there are times when we say 'yes' simply because it is the right thing to do. Agreeing to every request can sometimes be more about a person needing to be needed rather than other people's needs. It is not an either/or, helpful person vs unhelpful person situation. Like most things it is all about balance and mutual respect for our own and other people's rights.

BradfordLass72 Wed 17-Apr-19 03:01:14

Sometimes, doing something you don't want to do because it helps someone else, is more valid than doing something you want to do.

Anyone can do something they wanted to do anyway, but a real friend will help you whatever the cost.

janeainsworth Tue 16-Apr-19 21:07:43

kitty you can be kind and assertive.
As summerlove says, it’s not either or.

It’s about knowing when too much is being reasonably expected of you, or if you’re being taken for granted, and putting yourself first in those situations.

Summerlove Tue 16-Apr-19 20:33:06

You can be helpful as a rule while still saying no. This makes me sad that women see it as an either or situation.

I think this is part of a lot of issues between MILs and DILs. Younger generations of women are learning that it is acceptable to say no to things they don’t want. Whereas older generations of women were taught that they were never allowed to say no if they wanted to be “nice girls”.

Putting ones self first, isn’t the same as being selfish.

kittylester Tue 16-Apr-19 19:50:10

Jane, I know it's about being assertive not being selfish - but not everyone wants to be assertive and some of us want to be helpful, if we can, because it pleases us to be so..

sharon103 Tue 16-Apr-19 19:43:54

inishowen, when someone asks a favour on the phone I would say, I can't promise,but I'll get back to you on that one. With me, I have got older and wiser. I would always help anyone if I could, no matter what I had planned more so in illnesses. Some years ago I used to think my name was 'can ya' all I heard was can ya do this and can ya do that. What with trying to cope with my own troubles which I kept to myself, I started to get panic attacks and bad anxiety trying to cope with it all. Through the doctor I went on an anxiety management course for 6 weeks every Monday morning and among other things, how to be assertive. I admit it's taken a few years to put it into practice but as I've said I've got older. wiser and more worn out as we all do. So now I've started to please me. If I can do something for someone I surely will. The trouble is, some people can't take no for an answer and want to know the ins and outs of why not. Grrr. Then they turn tut and think you're the 'funny bugger' for saying no. It happens in the work place too. The lazy get away with it and the 'yes person' gets put upon and does the extra work. Bosses always know who they can rely on to say yes all the time. Those who say no they leave alone. Don't be doormats, just say no. You're not obliged to please them all. Yes of course we all have to put other peoples needs and welfare before our own sometimes but refusing an invite, babysitting, waiting in for the neighbours delivery etc is a choice we can make. We deserve to do what we want to do now and again and not feel guilty about it. I'm now going to confess, My dear daughter who is going on holiday for a few days in May and again in June has asked me if I could go and feed her cats for her. Yes I said!