"Here's the shirt and the sales receipt. Bring it up to the cashier and ask for a refund." "My steak is tough, will you tell the waiter and ask for something else?" "Please ring the door bell so I have an excuse to get off the phone with your Aunt Eva."
Moments like this were common for me when I was a kid. At 8 or 9 years old, I had to return items, sending back food and tell adults it was time to go. Because some adults around me were uncomfortable saying the word "no", I got a lot of practice saying no for them.
I understand that saying no makes a lot of people uncomfortable. One of my closest friends in graduate school was terrified to say no to anyone. When I asked her why, she said she felt horrible letting others down. Another friend avails herself to everyone, at any hour, no matter how exhausted she is or how inconvenient the request. I've even heard a few people on Twitter saying how they can't stand to say no and are exhausted as a result - especially around the holidays.
I think saying no is like anything else. It requires practice. Through trial and error, I've come up with a few strategies that have been helpful for me. I thought I'd share them here in hopes that you find them helpful as well. Here goes...
I rarely respond to requests in the moment. I typically thank a person for asking me to do something and get back to them after I've had time to consider how their request might impact me.
I don't feel bad about saying no. Saying no to a request simply means saying I've decided to say yes to myself. How can that be bad?
I find it's sometimes better to negotiate instead of saying no. For example, I might say " Y won't work for me but I could do "X". Would that work for you?"
I don't offer a lot of explanations for why I'm saying no. My reasons are my business and there's no need to open them up to the scrutiny of others. However, if providing a reason can help me and the other person come to a better solution or outcome, I might give some insight into what I'm thinking so we can come up with a solution together.
I don't say yes when I mean to say no. This ultimately leads to unpleasant situations.
I respect others feelings and I expect them to respect mine.
That's what works for me, what works for you?
Of course, every circumstance is different and saying no in one situation can be very different from saying no in another. Given all the stress it causes people, I sometimes wonder if we overestimate the importance of our yes in the eyes of others. What do you think?
Once again, I've gotten carried away with my thoughts. Must be the effect of eating Dark Chocolate Raspberry Scones under a magnificent magnolia tree. And by the way, the scones are delicious.
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Scones
468 g (4 c) all purpose flour
102 g (1/2 c) sugar
20 g (2 tbs) Coconut Palm Sugar
14 g (1 tbs) baking powder
4 g (1/2 tsp) baking soda
a pinch of salt
340 g (1.5 c) unsalted butter, slightly softened and chopped
1 large egg
250 ml (1 c) buttermilk
1 g (1/4 tsp) almond extract
4 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
160 g (1 c) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 pint raspberries (about 20 berries), clean and dry
Buttermilk for brushing tops of scones
Raw sugar and sliced almonds for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (176 c). Line 2 large cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper.
Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter and mix on low speed until the butter is incorporated and appears to be the size of small peas.
In a separate bowl mix egg, buttermilk and extracts. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix on low speed just until combined. Add dark chocolate and mix until blended.
Sprinkle counter with flour. (I placed a silpat on the counter to minimize sticking.) The dough is quite sticky so be prepared to wash your hands frequently. Remove slightly less than 1/3 of the dough from the mixing bowl. Place on counter and form into an approximately 5x5 inch square. The square should be about 1 inch high. Make six indentations in the dough with your finger. Place one raspberry in each indentation. Remove a bit of additional dough from the bowl and use it to make a layer that covers but does not destroy the raspberries. Once covered, pat down the dough a bit to make sure you the piece is unified. Your final block of dough should be about 1.5 inches high.
Using a bench knife, cut the square in half diagonally. Cut the square diagonally again. Cut diagonally again to make 6 triangles. Using an offset spatula, place scones on the prepared baking sheet leaving at least an inch between scones for expansion. Brush each scone with buttermilk, sprinkle with sugar and top with sliced almonds. Repeat with remaining 2/3 of the dough.
Bake approximately 25-30 minutes. Rotate pans front to back and top to bottom after 15 minutes. Cook until lightly golden brown. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. The scones taste best when served the same day but can be kept refrigerated in a sealed container for several days. They can also be reheated gently in the oven or for about 20 seconds in a microwave set to a low temperature.