The instinct to say “no”

 When my kids were younger, there came a point when I felt like I was always telling them “no” whenever they made a request.  After thinking it over, I came to realize that the reason was because I felt as if I had to give an immediate response to any request.  And without time to figure out all the nuances of the situation, my instinct was to say “no” and be done with it.  So when I learned that it was okay (and even desirable) for me to say “let me think about it”, I felt much better about the final answers I was able to give.  I found that, after I was able to mull over the request, I was able to say “yes” much more often, which made everyone happier.  Even when I was not able to say a definite yes, I could offer compromises.  And even when I still had to say no, I would have a legitimate reason to give them, instead of just, “because I said so”.

 It’s been a few years since I’ve thought about it.  I wonder if that is because the kids don’t make so many requests any more, OR if I was able to ingrain it into my behavior pattern, OR if I’m oblivious to the idea that I may have just gone back to saying “no”.  At any rate, I guess I should be grateful that my recent interactions with a certain person have made me start thinking about it again.  Funny how something like that can be so obvious when it’s someone else who is doing it.

 I’ve been wondering if there is any subtle way to tell this person that there is another way to respond when people make requests of you.  Probably not.  Which is too bad, because if I can’t do it with subtlety, then chances are good, I won’t do it at all.  And that also, is too bad, because maybe this person could overcome her rotten reputation if she learned to say “let me think it over”.

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