A reader raised an interesting issue on her blog this week:
“. . . The authors try to make the point that business is not an excuse for being selfish and a jerk. They push the point a bit far . . . I do think as leaders and business owners, we have to balance our responsibility to help others with our responsibility to keep ourselves healthy. As a person who has a great deal of difficulty saying No to anyone, this is a challenge for me. If I cannot do this, I cannot lead well, because I am unbalanced, unhealthy, and not very smart.”
The Go-Giver doesn’t directly address the issue of learning how to say “No,” but it’s not hard to imagine what Pindar might say about that. Letting other people take from you (having difficulty saying No) is not the same thing as giving. This reader has actually given a terrific illustration of the fifth law, the Law of Receptivity—which many people tell us they find is the toughest nut to crack of the five.
For many of us, the challenge is that it can be easy to give, give, give, but not take care of ourselves in the process. This isn’t noble: it’s just refusing to receive. And if you don’t take good care of you, then all that wonderful giving will soon run out of runway! (A quick litmus test: think back to the last time someone gave you a compliment. How did you respond?)
Proof of just how tough this is for people to get: one reviewer wrote that The Go-Giver illustrates “how it is better to give than to receive.” Amazing—especially since in the book itself, Pindar actually says:
“It’s not better to give than to receive. It’s insane to try to give and not receive. Trying not to receive is not only foolish, it’s arrogant. When someone gives you a gift, what gives you the right to refuse it—to deny their right to give?”
This business of giving seems so simple, doesn’t it? It is simple. Until you get people involved . . .
I agree with your reader that it’s important for us to set healthy boundaries.
Whether or not to accede to a request is our choice. When we choose to honor a request, we are giving, and the other is receiving.
Sometimes we may choose wrongly, i.e. we may have exercised bad judgment. We give when it might have been better to say “no”.
Why blame the receiver? Why call the person a taker and infer that somehow he or she has taken against our will?
No! We always have a choice. We are not victims. And I don’t think what your reader meant. Rather, that’s your interpretation of “difficulty saying no”, not hers. She’s simpley expressing her concern over her difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries and how that difficulty impacts her effectiveness.
However, I would like to suggest that if one finds it necessary to say no more too often, one’s expectations ought to be examined very carefully. As Pindar says, “You get what you expect.”