Saying NO and Meaning It

gift blog gave that etiquette

Sometimes it's pretty easy to forget why you were saving something. That was the case with my July issue of O Magazine until I flipped through the pages and saw the huge black and red NO followed by the title 54 Ways to Say NO by Penny Wrenn. You can now read it online so my issue will be passed on but not before posting the sage advice on saying no in the area of gifts (this is Gave That after all).

How many times has someone you really don't know asked you to give a gift to someone else you really don't know? Well Penny had a great answer to that...
"I don't think our relationship has reached the gifting stage."
There is something so classy yet hilarious about that answer... can you imagine the look on the persons face after telling them this!? The point is the power of NO can can free you from failing to direct your attention and, at times resources, away from people who are close to you and more deserving of your attention and gratitude.

Another area of Penny Wrenn's article highlighted the book, The Power of a Positive No by William Ury who makes another very good point. It pointed out how not to be wishy washy about your answer! If you know deep down you can't give a gift or you really don't want to be bothered, tell the person no up front. That way they can plan without you. If you change your mind later you can always pull through in the end. This always looks better and helps alleviate the potential for people saying you failed them with a lukewarm maybe that never actually materialized.

Other Opportunities To Say No
- Someone who has obvious romantic feelings that you know you'll never have in return is trying to give you gifts here and there. Come on now... don't you ever watch The Peoples Court? These always end up turning into loans and either way you end up looking incredibly bad.

- Your boss keeps taking you out to lunch/dinner and expensive gifts keep magically materializing on the table in front of you. The same can be true of a workmate or client when ones company frowns upon it. For more on this read this piece by Emily Post.

- Offers of professional advice or services. Vogue's etiquette book states, "[a] favor not [to] request or accept if it is offered, is professional advice or services. A professional's... time, talent, and training are worth money and [they] should never be expected to give it away."

- Requests for baby shower gifts for someone you don't knows 8th child.

- Candace Simpson-Giles writes in her book on etiquette, "Unless she is invited to a party in their honor, a lady does not feel compelled to give anniversary gifts to friends who are not related to her."

- A very expensive gift you know the giver cannot really afford and that may put them in financial hardship. This can be a very gray area.

- A pet. (unless this was something that was wanted all along)

- Someone with bad credit asking you to put a cell phone for them in your name... as a gift of course. Are the bills a gift too? Of course! Get them a Tracfone instead and a few phone cards to start them off. If they never want to talk to you again, feel pleased. Very pleased!

- That charity you've never heard of asking you to donate your brand new car... even if it is a Hummer.

- Of course we all want to teach children to refuse gifts from strangers or to ask you before they except... The Nice Bad Man was literally my favorite children's book ever.


Unknown said…
I love Oprah!

I read that article, ane since I'm the PTA president, the soccer team mom, the lady who bakes the cakes at church, the favorite pet sitter and the wife who cooks dinners for stranger-clients at the last minute I find saying no one of the most difficult things,

This year when my coworkers wanted to pitch in and throw a baby shower for a new person who had worked with us less then two months, I said no.

Great article!

Anonymous said…
I am a notary and find that my neighbors will often come to me for free advice and services. This article is very empowering. I have learned to say no over the years and it is quite a liberating experience! Saying "no" gives me time to do what I want to do, not what others put on my desk. It also shuts down manipulative people whose daily agenda is to seek out wishy-washy people to use. Great article. We need more of this.
Gave That said…
Thank you both for adding to this article by leaving your comments!

To Doris: You're a very giving person and it seems like you have a ton of people counting on you! This brings home William Ury's thoughts in his book about how a "NO" can really be 2 Yes's. If you didn't say no to the baby shower, who knows if one of your other projects wouldn't have fell through.

O is really a great magazine, I didn't start reading it until a couple years ago and I kick myself for it. The content is really ageless and unisex!

To Anonymous: This is an area I didn't think about when I posted this piece but you're so right in the 2 areas. Pro., people like doctors are always hit up for free advice, even when they're at a party trying to relax... tisk, tisk, tisk... also as you said some people seek out people like yourself and Doris, kind and giving people to use at will. They then never have time when you're in need of help. No can turn into something powerful... like garlic to a vampire.

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