One of the areas I struggle with most – both in the pie world and out – is the ability to say no. Like legions of women, anytime I say no, it is immediately followed up with a justification or an “I’m sorry”. Or both, most likely. Oh, and a heap of guilt too.
And so, honestly, I’ve said yes to a lot of things over the years when I desperately wanted to say “oh no, thanks.” And based on the hundreds of self-help books available on this problem, I can hardly believe that I’m alone in my grand plans to make everyone happy all of the time.
But I’ve noticed over the past year as our business has grown, saying no isn’t just important…it is requirement of success. During an average week, we are contacted by handful of advertisers and vendors, asking us to buy ad space or purchase pricey equipment or promotional materials. And in the beginning, I could barely turn anyone away. Which is precisely how we ended up with 1,000 sub-par ink pens as a promotional giveaway that still sit in a box under our counter because I hesitate to give away a terrible pen with an awesome pie.
About 18 months into PJP Buttonwood, I realized saying yes to everyone and everything just left me stressed out about branding, about money, and about our sanity. So in a rare bout of emotional growth and in the smallest bit of business acumen, I decided I was over it. And since I already hate January anyway, I made January my unofficial month of no.
And you would think that by recognizing the need to say no, actually doing it would be easy, right? Nope. Because what I’ve noticed is that even if I have the guts to say no, most will question the decision – as in well, how do you plan to bring in new customers without buying this service or product? How do you plan to sustain your process without this service or product? How do you think you can grow your customer base without this service or product? Hmpf.
I certainly don’t judge the advertisers and vendors asking those follow-up questions – they are doing their job, and doing it well. This is more about my ability to say no without opening the door to guilt and justification by apologizing and launching into a litany of reasons why I didn’t want to purchase whatever the person was selling. And when I bemoaned my thoughts about this all to Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason, he had little frame of reference because he couldn’t figure out why I was apologizing or justifying myself in the first place. Interesting.
A quick Google search pulls up a ton of research suggesting that women say “I’m sorry” an inordinate amount comparatively to men. And whatever – my inclination is to apologize to you for even writing this post about apology and justification. True story.
I don’t have any answers to my woes…I’m just posting just to say that I’m super terrible at saying no without feeling terrible and I’m probably not alone. So here is to February – my unofficial month to stop feeling bad about it all. Cheers.