From Lifehack: The Gentle Art of Saying No

The good people at Lifehack must have the gift of prophecy, or at the very least are in tune with the demands of modern life.

Their feed this morning featured the following article on how to say no. It’s something with which I have struggled all of my life. I work really hard at being a nice guy and it’s to my own detriment when I overbook my schedule. As the post explains, I end up doing a so-so job on too many projects instead of doing a fantastic job on a smaller, more manageable list.

This is particularly prevalent in my life within the realm of church, since the perception is that everything has eternal consequence. Even though I know I’m pusuing my calling and have tremendous satisfaction, I feel obligated to help out other fledgling ministries at our church who suffer from a lack of volunteers.

What’s frustrating is the mob of people who aren’t involved in a ministry, while a core of people live and work at breakneck speed to get things done. It’s the 80-20 rule applied to labor distribution. A professor I had in the fall said that this often occurs in churches where people don’t have their gifts properly identified and are working in the wrong department or burned out and not working at all.

Regarding the Lifehack article, I found “pre-empting” to be the most helpful technique and the easiest for me to put into practice, probably because it doesn’t involve direct confrontation on a specific request:

Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

Still, saying “no” is something I find difficult, although I did say “no” to a project related to our Easter drama in April. I have to remember that I have a specific calling in my life and even if that weren’t the case, I’m in grad school.

No. It’s such a powerful, liberating and difficult little word.


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