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Oh So Disconnectedly Connected!

Oh So Disconnectedly Connected!

For many of us, we often find ourselves beginning our days by reading through our Facebook wall noticing all the fun things people around us (or at least in our virtual world) are doing. People are attending little league and major league baseball games, going on vacations, sharing fun pictures from family gatherings or simply while relaxing at home, and their latest travel updates. And in case you were wondering, of course we want to see your latest food creation, completed DIY Pinterest-approved project, an hour-by-hour visual of your day, including a sweaty picture of yourself posing with your treadmill, and all of those pictures of your kids. Without going any further, I will admit that I am definitely guilty of these things too!

It is interesting that although we have not seen many of our “friends” in some time, we are very up to date on all the on-goings in their lives. Is this virtual voyeurism? Or, how can we not be? It seems as though this is the main tool of connection we have among us, and it does allow us to see people we do not have the opportunity to see every day due to distance, circumstances, and time constraints. Why is this bad? Well, it’s not really, but it is a little ironic that as we become more connected in our virtual world, the less connected we might be in our real world. For some, this might be a good thing. After all, we like our identity we have created online, but, this can have consequences too. There has been a term in the media for some time now called “FOMO”, referring to the Fear of Missing Out. For a lot of us, we feel the need to check our Facebook wall first thing in the morning, experiencing some anxiety until we are caught up from anything we have potentially missed overnight. This is especially important if you have friends overseas with a completely different time zone. We definitely need to see what they ate dinner last night and who they were with. In addition to the frequency in checking out our news feed, we can also feel some negative emotions, such as frustration, sadness, or inadequacy, when looking at others’ lively posts and our lowly timeline wall. For some, we may just post those superficial “look at me, I’m really having fun!” pictures that do not really share a true depiction of our day.

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When we evaluate our social media participation, we need to maintain awareness that seeing is not believing. This can occur when you look at everyone else’s adventures and begin to feel as though you do not have the best things, have as much fun, or look as good as everyone else. This can extend to your kids or family as well: While it seems as though everyone else’s kids are well-behaved, fun-loving, achievement-driven, or simply charming 100% of the time, we might experience our own kids’ meltdowns and wonder why they cannot behave as we perceive others behaving. Are those parents not having a tough time ever?!

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Before we get too negative about social media, there are many positives: It is a great place to share and receive information, see what others are up to, and a way to feel part of a group from the comfort of your home or laptop. But, we need to be aware of social media boundaries. That is, being sure to stay connected in your real life without being consumed with your online life and keeping in mind that for most people, they are likely to mostly post the good going on. Just like we need to maintain a buffer when viewing the magazine industry’s constant Photoshop effects, we need to remind ourselves that what we see is not reality, just virtual reality!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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