Co-authored and inspired by Sister Mary Lisa
SML: I got called to be in the primary presidency again, honey.
Mr. SML (never-mo): WHAT? But you’ve been in the young women’s presidency for two years!
SML: I know. I just wish I could get a break once!
Mr. SML: All it would take is one word: NO.
SML: Cha right. Shee-it. You have no idea what you’re saying.
Mr. SML: If you don’t wanna do it, just say no. It’s simple.
SML: Um, no I can’t. Not even if I want to say no could I say no.
Mr. SML: (blank stare….he doesn’t get it)
SML: Trust me on this.
Mr. SML: Whatever. I’D have said no.
SML: *Sigh* Anyway……I have a presidency meeting this Wednesday and a quarterly activity I found out I’m in charge of this Saturday, and it’s my month to do sharing time apparently. I’ll see you next week, OK?
Mr. SML: Like I said. Whatever.
Many Mormons have a hard time saying no. It is probably no accident that my mother became a Mormon and that Mormonism could inflict considerable damage on her children. We did not know how to say no.
When my mother raised us, we learned that the most important word is “why?” However important “why” may be for developing reasoning skills and leading a responsible life, it turns out that my mother was wrong. The most important word is “no!” If you can’t say no then you won’t have a life.
As it turns out, William Ury, the co-author of Getting to Yes, probably the most famous contemporary book on negotiation, is now promoting The Power of A Positive No, which teaches people how to protect yourself by saying no while remaining a cooperative person.
You can listen to a radio presentation by Ury on the Kojo Nnamdi Show.
Balancing theory and applications, The Power of A Positive No is an easy read. There is a chapter about the idea and the method. The remainder of the book is about applications in different contexts such as saying no to your boss, your subordinate, your children, your spouse, and your friends.
If you are the kind of Mormon, like me, who needs to learn how to say no, read the book. It will improve your personality, make you a more efficient worker, and a better spouse and parent.