My Big Girl Voice

E. had a few things to say to me after my confession.

“Why did you do that?” her voice sounding a little annoyed.  

“They needed help.”

“And why did they need help?”

“Uh…” I stammered, feeling as if I was about to answer a
trick question. “They were in a bind.”

“Their bind is their problem!”  She continued.  “It’s not your problem, don’t make it your
problem.  Next time you need to say
no.” 

“OK.”

“How do you ever expect to get to the things that really
matter to you if you keep saying yes to the things that don’t?”  She asked.

My crime?  I took work
home with me over the weekend. Why was that a crime?

Because I’m the girl who can’t say no.  Especially to employers.

Pulling my weight from 9 to 5 certainly can’t be enough for
me to prove to you how indispensable I am. 

If you need me to take a work related phone call at 1:30
a.m., I won’t complain.  

If I know I’ll be stuck home with a sick child on the day that
I have a deadline, I’ll be up at 4am to finish it before my child needs attention.

I’ll get it done.

For me, the “not saying no” department has mostly revolved
around my work life.  Why? 

Because if I say yes to everything you ask of me, even if
your requests are unreasonable or  don’t
mesh with my life or my values or my schedule, at least I’m guaranteed a
paycheck, and so long as I have that paycheck, I can survive.

So I’ll jump as high as I can and for as many hours as I can
pry my eyes open to write your proposal or finish that report in hopes that you
will never fire me.

Because if you may recall from my last post, I can get a
little uptight about my chances of survival!

But back to E.  

“But…it’s a new job…” I counter.  Because I am still in that “trying to prove
myself,” phase, that self-imposed hazing of trying to show an employer my
awesomeness.    

“OK, the other thing is, are you listening to your voice?”
E. asks. “It’s an adolescent voice.  It’s
nasal.  And a little whiny” (E. doesn’t
mince words, if you haven’t noticed).  
You need to drop your voice into your throat and speak from your adult
place.  Let me hear you try.”

“How’s this?” I ask, in a deeper tone.

“That’s it,” E. says. 
“You’ve got it.  I want you to
practice speaking from your adult place this week.  When you feel challenged by your boss or when
you are asked to do things that don’t work for you, like put in extra hours
that you don’t have to give them, remember to use your voice.  Come from your adult place,” she repeats.

The next day, at work, when challenged on how I handled a
phone call with a client, I dropped my voice, and magically, the debate was
resolved.

When trying to wrangle the kids out to the bus stop, the
adult voice cut right through the commotion.

And when I made eye contact with my children while using the
adult voice, the results were next to miraculous!

When my wireless carrier gave me the run around about some
problems I was having with my phone, poof! Like magic, I got the help I needed
when I dropped my voice.

There is more, of course, than just altering your voice. The
secret ingredient in this for me is the attitude behind the voice. 

Dropping my voice reminds me to approach these situations
from my adult place.

My unapologetic adult place.  Without excuses.  That place that is committed to take care of
and honor me.

Because when we stand behind ourselves, from our voices, and
from our hearts, the other person has no choice but to take us seriously.  

Adjusting the tone of my voice has somehow re-set the tone
for how people treat me.  To be specific,
it has allowed me to set the tone
for how they treat me.

At least for this week.   

My belly is out of real estate at the moment, so I’m
using my wrist for this one!

 
I set the tone

Namaste, Divas!

 How are you at saying
“no?”

Are there certain people
or areas in your life where it is more difficult than others?  

When you do say no,
do you worry about the repercussions afterwards?   


Comments

My Big Girl Voice — 20 Comments

  1. Amazing advice and advice that we could all use to hear every so often! I also often have trouble saying now but you and E are so right – lowering your voice and really approaching situations unapologetic-ally totally changes things. Good for you!!

  2. You go girl! You are the fierce diva. And if you need some additional oomph, just imagine we are all standing right beside and all around you. Imagine the surprised and conciliatory attitude that will follow. ;-D <3

  3. OMG! Yes! I would always give 110% to my job. You want me to stay late? No problem. You need me to come in on the weekends? Done. This was all done for the sake of potential advancement. When I was faced with empty promises, I started to say no. I’m not going to give up time with my family with no offers in return. From there on out they only got what they paid me for…40 hours a week.

  4. New babies are GREAT EXCUSES for saying “no.” seriously! “Sorry, the baby is napping” “Oh, that’s the baby’s feeding time – I can’t meet up then..” use it while you can and in them meantime, practice dropping your voice into your throat. I swear this works!

  5. It’s uncanny how much alike we are in the work sector..but like you, I have learned the hard way to say no and to put my family first. It took way too long though. I am more or less turned off to corporate america because by and large, they do work people to death. Another reason for us to go and start that commune!

  6. I think I used to have a stronger voice. But over time, it’s weakened. I can tell it’s not quite as mojo-filled as it used to be. I need to do this whole deeper voice thing. Command respect from some of these people who don’t recognize my authority 😉
    Kiran

  7. I am absolutely the same way now. Always a pleaser, at a certain point I realized I couldn’t keep giving without taking away from my kids. And after that, I do what I need.
    Kiran

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