Sunday, February 24, 2013

No! And I Mean It... Okay?

One of the questions I've always hated having to answer during job interviews is for me to say what I consider to be my biggest flaw. Not because I don't know the answer, but because I don't like the answer. Well, that and because of the fact that it's a generic bullshit question employers throw out because it's printed on an interview questionnaire some downloaded. But as I was saying, my main reason is because I don't like admitting the answer. Which is that I have a real problem saying "no" to people.
If only it were so simple...
source
It's one of those things about myself I can't stand, but have a really hard time dealing with. Like most people with this problem, I think maybe people will like me less or be upset with me if I assert myself and say no to their requests. In my case, I think it's because I'm an introvert, with slightly above average intelligence, who, as a result, grew up misunderstood and under-appreciated (and a constant target of bullies). As such, I constantly craved attention and acceptance for fear of being alone and developed an overly accommodating personality.

Or something like that, I guess. I'm basically pulling all that of my ass.

Anyway, what I really hate about this is that, as an adult, I know deep down that I don't have that same desire for acceptance I once did. Back then, it was a coping mechanism in response to fulfilling what everyone else considered "normal", which meant having lots of friends and being popular. That's not me. I like being left alone. I'm not a people person and I'm okay with that. To be honest most of the time, people annoy me.

Maybe that's why some think I come off as unfriendly.

I'm not, by the way. Unfriendly, I mean. I try to be a nice guy, which I think is part of the problem. I think things would be a lot easier if I was more of an asshole. Assholes have it easy, in that regard. They don't worry about who likes them or who they disappoint. Assholes don't give a shit! I imagine myself being an asshole sometimes. What it might be like. Saying "no" with reckless abandon, rocking back in my chair with my hands clasped behind my head as the poor loser whose request I just declined dejectedly lumbers off to find someone else to do whatever he or she was asking (didn't really catch what he/she was asking me for, to be honest. I wasn't paying attention). I imagine smiling at that point, knowing whatever his or her problem was, I prevented it from also becoming my problem.

Yeah... Assholes have it so easy.

But not me, though. Noooo!!! I have to be Mr. Nice Guy. So every time someone asks me for something, those old habits kick in and I start thinking about what a disappointment I'll end up being to that person if I say no. Instead, I try to make excuses why I can't help out. Things like, I'm swamped with my own stuff, or I don't know how to do what the person asked are the usual fallbacks, but these excuses are paper thin and with a little arguing, they know I'll be swayed.

It's not there have never been times when I said no, though. The problem there is standing my ground after I do. Often, if the person making the request is determined enough, they won't accept no for an answer. I know, right? You'd think after you faced your fear and rose to the challenge they'd accept defeat, right? But, no, there's no, "You've won this round, Vinny. Congratulations on thwarting my scheme. Until next we meet, I salute thee."

No! They still try to make me work for it. They can see that I'm weak. They know, after battling the urge to cave in and take on whatever responsibility they're trying to shovel on hand me, that I'm spent and I don't have the resolve to stand my ground. So they persist and, in the end, I cave. I always cave.

It's something I have to work on (the saying "no" thing, not the trying to be an asshole thing, so we're clear). Maybe I'll start reading up on it and trying to learn new techniques, that will help me say " no" to people in a more effective and guilt-free manner. Maybe I'll practice saying it in the mirror or with Mrs. C...

Or maybe just in the mirror for now. Baby steps, Vinny. Baby steps...

9 comments:

  1. Saying no is hard. I always want to try to be nice, but sooner or later I hit the point where I'm resentful. Then I manage to sound like an asshole, only I sound like an asshole that still can't say no.

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    1. That's a "worst of both worlds" scenario if there ever was. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if I probably ended up doing exactly the same.

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  2. I feel your pain on that weakness question. My answer that I never say is I hate being told what to do and I don't take criticism well. I have a coworker who steps all over this nerve and her and I constantly are at odds. It never seems to bother other people and that baffles me. And I have this huge emotional reaction going on while everyone else is fine! Ugh.

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    1. I've always managed to avoid getting emotional in workplace situations. Dark & broody, however, is another story.

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  3. I don't have a lot of issues with saying no, but I can relate on the whole not being a people person thing. I don't like most people. I am very happy keeping to myself and it doesn't bother me in the least. I really don't care if people like me or not, but just can't be mean. I am Mr. Nice Guy almost all the time and I can turn on the charm when it suits my purposes, but if it was up to me, I wouldn't have to see anyone for most of the day.

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    1. Exactly! Just this week, I got a client no one in the company liked dealing with to actually pay on time for the first time ever just by turning on my charm over a few phone conversations with her. I'm good at it, but it's a gift I'd rather not have to use. Truth be told, if it were up to me, I'd work from home and only speak to real live people on an absolute need basis.

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  4. Wonder what would happen if you actually said that; I'm smarter than most, people irritate me and I don't like a..holes.

    I'd hire you.

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    1. I'll keep that in mind for when I'm ready to "blow this popsicle stand", as they say. I meant what I said about now staying at this job for long. Way too many pre-existing issues to deal with here.

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  5. Saying "no," doesn't bother me. Some things just need to be said. I've had jobs where I had to say "no" and make people like it. It's challenging, but rewarding when it works. I'm a master at "wearing the black hat" now.

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