Iowa Nice.

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DeeAnna

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Sometimes I really wish I could say "no".

A guy called up today. Lives about 2 hours away. Wants to visit my shop to learn All There Is about Sleigh Bells (that's what I work on for a living). Wants to pick my brain about their history, see how I put them on leather, learn all the secrets about how we clean and polish the bells, and so on.

In other words, he's madly in love with sleigh bells, assumes I'm just as mad about them as he is, and thinks I will be perfectly willing to spend several hours of unpaid time entertaining him and his wife on the subject. He's not the first one to assume this, nor will he be the last, but he is as unwilling to take a hint on the subject of "NO" as I've ever encountered.

I was blunter than I normally am about the reasons why I don't care to deal with casual shop visitors who Just Want to Visit, but he blithely ignored all my reasons and warnings. The only thing that MIGHT have put a stop to all this was me saying a plain 'n simple NO, Do Not Visit.

And of course my Iowa Nice training kicks in when I finally face up to facts -- I have to pick one of two options -- either say NO or cave.

I caved.

I have no one to blame but myself. I will resentfully spend several hours tomorrow playing nice to a total stranger who just thinks it's the most nifty thing in the world to wander my sleigh bell "disneyland."

I'm about ready to interview for that process engineer spot at the local plastics factory. No one thinks its nifty to learn what an engineer does. When I worked for corporate engineering America some years ago, I was occasionally trotted out as an example of a tame female engineer, but otherwise I was expected to just do my job, not entertain.

Venting here. Not looking for sympathy. Another few swift kicks in the pants might help learn me this lesson, so you have my invitation to drive the lesson home! :think:
 

dixiedragon

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Ugh. Do you have his contact info? Honestly, I'd give him a book recommendation and tell him, "Sorry I can't visit today, something came up!"

I sorta feel sorry for his wife. I mean, he's going to bother you for a few hours. This is her life.

Is your shop a store where customers come and buy sleigh bells, or is it where you manufacture stuff? I ask b/c my Dad makes labels and he calls his place "the shop".
 

BusyHands

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I can't drive the lesson home... I'm the same way. I just dealt with something similar. Someone being pushy & me telling them why I would prefer not to do something and they kept asking me every other day about the same thing. A good friend told me that people of a certain thought pattern take the reasons as open-ended & won't stop until I say No, I'm not doing that. Some people do not get the hints & have no boundaries.
 

dixiedragon

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This is actually something my mom has been recently learning - how to hear and accept the "soft no." Now, this is in regards to her doing something for somebody else. So if she invited you someplace and you said, "I've got plans, but thanks," she accepts it. But if she wants to do something for you - for example she's been helping some friends who moved away to clear out their house in our area - she doesn't hear the "soft no" as a no.

So she says, "Hey, want me to come over and help you clear out your garage?"
Them: "Oh, we're just too busy today."
Her: "Okay, how about tomorrow?"
and on and on.

If you read the forum "Etiquette Hell" they talk about this a lot. One technique is to say a cheerful, "No thanks!" b/c "No" seems too harsh, but when you start offering excuses then that's just an obstacle to be overcome. "No thanks!" leaves no room for discussion.
 

DeeAnna

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"No, thanks."

I gotta practice that. Yep, I'm writing that 100 times on my proverbial black board as penance.

I appreciate learning good strategies that can let me still keep (most of) my Iowa Nice and yet not get walked on. And thank you for listening to my vent and more importantly for helping me put this in perspective.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I live in a country where people assume that you mean what you say. It's hard for an Englishman.

"Well, we'll see what we can do" to me means "Not a snowballs chance in hell, old boy" but over here it seems to imply at least a modicum of hope. It's hard getting the head around actually being able to say no and a) the other person not taking offense or b) it not actually mattering one tidy jot if they take offense or not!

As much as your Starfleet Shipyard Land niceness goes, you and yours are the top priority. If babysitting some jingle-freak is going to take time from what you should be doing, will his offense actually make any real difference to your life? (Spoiler, the answer is "no"). The other option is to quote him your hourly rate.....................

I am getting really good at this, as The Admirable Lady is terrible at letting other people's "needs" impact on us and I won't stand for it. If there is any non-essential aspect that negatively impacts the family, especially The Little Efficacious Gentleman, it is most certainly a "nice to have" up against a "must have" - and the "must have" items win.
 

DeeAnna

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"..."Well, we'll see what we can do" to me means "Not a snowballs chance in hell, old boy"..."

This kind of "soft no" (nice phrase, Dixie!) is pretty common and is (usually) well understood by people like me who grow up in the midwestern United States, but the norms of how people communicate vary a lot even within the USA. I've had to learn to adjust how I say things to others and how I interpret what they say to me, especially when I'm talking to people from some regions outside the Midwest. Some folks from other parts of the US don't realize how overbearing and rude they can sound to a native midwesterner! I've realized the patterns of how these people communicate are strongly related to where they grew up -- that's just how everyone talks and they really don't mean to be rude. I imagine I sound overly soft spoken to them in return.
 

dixiedragon

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DeeAnna, I think the South is very similar in that way. To just say "No" feels terribly mean and rude to me, but I can do a "No, but thank you!" (For me it is key to make it upbeat and cheerful sounding." But OTOH, I find myself doing the same thing as my mom. One of my co-workers and I talk about cooking and food, and I suggest that we should take turns bringing lunch so we can try new things, for example I could bring something for us both one day a week, and she could be something. She "soft no-ed" me and I had to really hold myself back coming up with solutions to the polite objections she was giving me.

I think there are a lot of plusses to a culture where people work to soften their words to each other, but a huge negative is that rude, pushy people often "win" b/c they just push and push and it feels rude to say "no" over and over.
 
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DeeAnna

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Dixie -- I most definitely did not have the typical Southerner in mind when I made my earlier comments!!!! :) Your lesson about "no, thank you!" is going to be really useful to me. It translates perfectly into Midwesterner-speak. The South's deeply meaningful "Bless your heart!" does not translate as nicely, although sometimes I wish it did. :)

Steve -- "No is a complete sentence" has also been written on my black board today along with with Dixie's contribution. Great way to make a good point.

I do think one's occupation makes a difference in how easy it is to say "no." In my former life as an engineer, keeping the public happy was not a job requirement and on top of that everyone knows engineers are a little weird and socially inept, right? Nowadays, when the phone rings, I leap into "consumer service" mode with the goal of making people feel at ease and answering their questions, so they will hopefully place an order. I have refused to serve people, but only very, very rarely. I usually feel miserable about the experience, even if I know it's the right decision in the long run. I should have said "no" today, for example, but I wasn't prepared to feel miserable for a little bit now in order to avoid a lot more misery tomorrow.
 
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dixiedragon

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Maybe he will buy 100 sleigh bells.

BTW, Effy, the phrase "jingle-freak" makes me laugh.

ETA: Here in the South, somebody would oh-so-sweetly murmur, "Bless your heart" and that would cue the wife to hurry her husband along.
 
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DeeAnna

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Oh, gosh, that's the phrase I was really thinking of -- "bless your heart!" Gonna edit my previous post.

My unwanted visitor is definitely a jingle freak. I'm dingy for agreeing to put up with him. :)
 

galaxyMLP

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I know what you mean with saying no. People have often said I have a hard time saying no in work/life. I lived in south Florida until I went to college. As I move farther north in Florida, I have been encountering more of the southern type of communication. Most people I run into are very nice but I'm also learning "how to take a hint" since people were MUCH more blunt in south Florida.

Personally, I like to say "oh, that's alright, thanks for your interest but I don't think I can do that". Or "that sounds lovely but I'm not sure I can do that now". I'm long winded in my No's. In south Florida it's common to say "Yeah, no." But I don't hear that around here. People are much less blunt and it takes a lot more to shut down overzealous people because of that!
 

dibbles

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I'm a midwesterner too, DeeAnna, and just like you I have a difficult time saying no. If I have to say no more than once, I start to feel like a terrible person and nearly always give in. No one to blame but myself for whatever it is I end up doing that I really didn't want to do. I haven't learned yet that saying no doesn't require a reason for 'why not'. So, in that light, could you possibly dissuade future requests from the jingle freaks by saying they can't visit your shop/work space because of insurance liability restrictions? (You would if you could, but big bad insurance company won't allow it.)
 

IrishLass

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This is a most wonderful thread. Taking notes......

Don't mind me- continue on with the discussion and tips. :mrgreen:

IrishLass :)
 

DeeAnna

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"...they can't visit your shop/work space because of insurance liability restrictions..."

My DH suggests much the same thing. This would certainly work to keep the Jingle Freaks (thanks, Gent!) out of my hair, but it seems rather dishonest. I'm really bad at fibbing and outright lying -- I'm sure the word "LIAR" is tattooed across my forehead when I do. I'd rather find a way to simply say "No thanks!" and stick to it without having to explain or apologize.

I maintain my business website myself, and I have set myself the task of writing a brief policy about Jingle Fre ... uh, I mean casual visitors! ... to add to my website. Not sure how I'm going to word it -- maybe I'll end up using your insurance reason, Dibbles -- but whatever I come up with will be better than what I'm doing now.
 

Steve85569

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"In my former life as an engineer, keeping the public happy was not a job requirement and on top of that everyone knows engineers are a little weird and socially inept, right?"

That got a good chuckle out of me! My background is civil / horizontal construction ( think roads and pipes) so yeah. And everybody I worked with over the years thought those on the engineering side were, well, a bit "different". I got used to it. Suppose that's what ya may need to do here too maybe.

JMHO,
Steve
 

BrewerGeorge

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.... I'm really bad at fibbing and outright lying -- I'm sure the word "LIAR" is tattooed across my forehead when I do. I'd rather find a way to simply say "No thanks!" and stick to it without having to explain or apologize. ...
LOL, when the girls were young (I have four) we used to tell them that when they lied they got a blue dot on their foreheads. Works until six or seven at least, and when they grow out of it, the older girls play along with the younger. ;)
 

Susie

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DeeAnna, when I got a divorce, I moved back to my hometown and HAD to learn to say no. All of my parents friends wanted to "introduce me to someone". I got really good at saying no really fast. My favorite way to say it now is with a huge smile and saying, "No thanks, busy that day!", and walking off. Works wonderfully in all situations. No matter what the question is, it works. The best part is walking off (or hanging up the phone) prevents persistent attempts at asking again.
 

CaraBou

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I grew up in a big family on the northern Great Plains, and learned quickly to say what I meant. Not rude, just direct enough to make it clear. It is a great way to communicate when everyone "speaks the same language" -- no one gets hurt and your point is taken. Didn't take long after moving away to figure out that approach doesn't work well in other regions or in public service.

I must say, this thread is in the right place at the right time. I've been trying to say no to something for two weeks and it is still nipping my heels (and on my brain). It is time for some good old fashioned, confident, clear, communication. Hope I don't get fired! :twisted:

Good luck to you DeeAnna. The other (learned) side of my style tells me these things will always work out and in the end, and your strengths will shine.
 

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