13 thoughts on “how do you say, “no”?”

  1. You need to increase the immediately-felt cost of saying yes. You should have a contest with other faculty members for who can say “no” to the most things in a month, and keep a running tally. This may be an even better idea that the collective diet.


  2. Track #7 on the Oklahoma soundtrack could be my theme song, but I did hear some good advice when I started this job. Say yes to something – to ONLY ONE thing, something you’d like to do – and use that in saying no to everything else. For instance, “I’d really love to join the Columbia bonsai club, but I’ve already committed to the faculty table tennis team.” However, I find that it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re an untenured junior who wants people in your department, your university, and your discipline (particularly journal editors) to like you.


  3. that’s a great idea. one amendment: it should be some kind of percentage. So you probably get asked to do more things than I. Or we should find some way to weight “no”. So that a “no” to a task that takes eight hours counts more than a “no” to a task that takes fifteen minutes…


  4. I can’t think through the details at the moment, because I’m caught up trying to dispatch with things I’ve said yes to that will probably keep me here until midnight. But: we should call the endeavor the NOlympics.


  5. Yes. I’m coming to dinner. But I’m leaving early because I also said “yes” to another event that runs concurrently. See my problem? I’m seriously booked.

    I also said, “yes” to this blog! Which is taking up my time. And I too will be here all night. So you’ve got a friend, Jeremy. Even if he’s 1000 miles away…


  6. Woody Allen has a line somewhere about the tribe whose language lacks a word for “no.” Instead, they say things like, “I’ll get back to you . . . .”

    (I’m sure it’s funnier in the original, but I’m too lazy to go search for it right now.)


  7. It also helps to have people in your life who will cheer you on for responsibly saying “no.” After a particularly important “no,” I emailed a friend to share my accomplishment (because, yes, for me, saying “no” is an accomplishment). He responded:

    Awesome! You rock. If I ran a carnival you would get to choose one of the bears from the top row!

    I’ve kept this message in my inbox as a sort of touchstone ever since…

    Feel free to drop me a line, if you ever need a similar message. After all, there’s more than one bear on the top row!


  8. The Woody Allen gag has a grain of truth. Defer as much as you can. If it’s important, it will tend to come up again. I’ve used this technique to curb my book-buying habits by carrying a list around, and not buying unless the book has been there for at least a month or so.


  9. passing on advice given you by a fellow Ahmadi who said no to getting a login so will not give it to you herself: “all these people are offering solutions that require excuses. Don’t give excuses. Just ‘no’. Nancy had it right. Practice in front of the mirror. Better yet, practice by arguing with the ISO. If you can make no stick with them, you can make no stick with anybody”


  10. Good point! The only issue is that ISO doesn’t have any power over me. What are they going to do? Put a pick ax to my door when the revolution comes? Yeah, I’ll be sure to be worried about that! But I agree, Nancy and that cute Ahmadi is right. Just say no.


  11. OW: LOL

    You all need a no club with no points. A group of people who give you points for saying no to stuff — they randomly assign points. Refusing to review a manuscript = 1 or 2 points. Refusing to direct a center that the administration won’t fully fund = 12 points.

    Points = beer, martinis, and the like.

    and, “what would a law degree do” has it right — no is a complete sentence.


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