Just say no! (English)

The older ones among us will remember the ‘recommendation’ given by US First Lady Nancy Reagan. She aimed at discouraging youngsters from doing drugs. As far as I know, with little success, which may also be due to purely rational recommendations not being sufficient to lead to behavioural change among humans – else all the good resolutions appearing soon would be put into practice.


I was recently reminded of Nancy Reagan’s ‚recommendation‘ in a few situations: when a coachee once more did not manage to stick to our coaching session. Or when again several registered people did not show up for an event. And also with myself: when a colleague from England asked me to support her in a new project, I said yes before moving back to my own projects.


In every one of these cases, the person said ‚yes’: yes to being coached; yes to participate in the event; and yes to the new project. And in every one of these cases, the agreement was not honoured or not cancelled or too late. So, I asked myself: what is happening here?


When I spoke with these people (and investigated myself), I soon discovered that these people could not say no. Sure, I want the coaching and it fits into my calendar – and as soon as one commitment moves, the whole construction collapses. And yes, I wanted to participate in the event, but then my wife showed up and, actually, I knew from the beginning that I could not be in two places at the same time. And I felt appreciated by my colleague and I also knew that I ‘actually’ don’t have the time.


This brings me to another experience: many people I meet ask me for helping the with their time management; they have tried lots of approaches but none really works for them. Maybe it is not about them not being capable of managing their tasks. Maybe the time available just is not sufficient to do everything.


I understand that namely in today’s turbulent times the ability to plan goes down. Nevertheless, I invite all of us to check before accepting a meeting, agreeing for an event or working in a project if we can keep our commitment. And if not, then I think that out of respect and appreciation for all involved, we do have the right and duty to say no.


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