Along with my other suggestions, I’d like to offer additional ideas to help you improve your communications skills. One of these ideas I’ve dubbed “let me get back to you.”
When You’re Put on the Spot
Have you ever felt pressured to give an immediate “yes” or “no” to someone? For example, a friend calls asking you to help with a weekend project or that he wants to drop in on you unexpectedly because he is bored and in the area. In two or three seconds, are you able to review your own plans and give an honest answer? Or are you like me and often say “yes” because it is easier in the moment to just say “yes,” or because it would seem selfish to say “no?”
Confusion and Regrets
Looking back, I can see how my people-pleasing personality has gotten me in trouble by saying an impulsive “yes” to a person.
I may have been looking forward to the original plans I had already made. Now it seems that my own plans are vetoed and superseded by someone else.
Secondly, I have created confusion and awkwardness with others I may have originally made plans with. I must go back to them to say that either I now cannot go with them or inform them that someone else is joining us.
Worst of all is the potential bad mood that surrounds me for saying “yes” when I should have said “no.” I’m in a bad mood for giving in to changes I do not like. Also the first party I had plans with may now see that I do not keep my word; they may feel less important or belittled in some way. Lastly, my bad mood may cast a dark cloud over any activity I undertake – including my plans with the person who initiated it!
Who Decides Your Plans?
Let me ask you this: if someone makes a request, are you really obligated to say “yes” when your heart wants to say “no?”
Without sounding selfish, unfriendly or uncompromising, let me offer that we owe it to ourselves and others to give an honest “yes” or “no” to all ideas and opportunities. But we can do this in a way that is fair, respectful and a “win” for all.
The following are some simple words that I use to slow down my impulse to say “yes” (with later regrets) or my guilt in saying “no” without offending people. Read on to find the words I use.
Reclaiming Your Voice with These Words, – “Please wait, and I’ll get back to you.”
I have spared myself many awkward moments by the simple sentence, “Let me get back to you.” These words are a non-committal pause to a request to a question that I may not be ready to agree to.
Pauses Allow Reflection and Re-Empowerment
Asking the other person to “wait” does several positive things:
Waiting allows time to review the plans and commitments I have made or am in the process of making. Waiting gives me time for equal consideration of all opportunities and responsibilities in my life. This includes myself, others, and the person making the most recent request of my time and life. It is like the words of Jesus who said for us to, “Love our neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). In the Bible and in life we are to consider our needs and purposes in life, and recognize and coordinate with the needs and plans of others.
- Waiting also helps to rebalance the relationship. An immediate “yes” almost implies that I have no rights but am obligated to please the other person. But by asking for a time buffer I reclaim my dignity and review my desires along with theirs.
- Using the “pause” button in life now gives us time to consider my plans and to consult others. During the waiting period it may be helpful to talk with your family, a colleague or another friend. This is especially true if directly or indirectly they have a stake in your decision. Talking out loud or by email with a third person helps me in making a decision to say “yes” or “no.”
- And one final thing is this – waiting often helps lessen the emotional tension experienced in the moment. Personally I have found that what was once the best and only option in the spur-of-the-moment seems to lose its appeal as the only choice. Time to reflect allows each person to brainstorm other ideas or the people to do things with. In others words the first request often gives way to other more creative and better timed options to choose from, and these no not have to include me.
- I hope this writing was helpful. Practice and try using these simple words in your life, “Let me get back to you on that.”
- After taking time to arrive at your decision, get back to the person. A request for time was a commitment made to them, and now the other person is waiting on the answer. Unfortunately, some people believe that not getting back to someone is an answer, but it is only a sign of disrespect. Instead, give that person a clear answer in the time you asked them to respectfully wait for.
Get Back to Them
Call or email me, Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789) for help with your relationships and relationship problems. I am a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis and other Western Suburbs.