There are four kinds of response available to you when someone makes a request, but many of us hardly see that we have only one or two of them in our repertoire.
- accept (say ‘yes’ – a promise you’re making to do what the person asked)
- decline (say ‘no’)
- make a counter-offer (an offer to do something different from what you were asked, but which you think might still satisfy at least part of the requestor’s wishes)
- promise to respond at a later time (when you don’t yet know which of the first three response you’ll choose)
So many people become habitual accepters of every request that they have to find sneaky ways out of the bonds of over-commitment they’ve created. And others habitually decline every request, binding themselves into a world with no support because they’re more afraid of losing their freedom by being bound by a promise to others.
Every response you choose shapes the identity you’re building in your relationships with others. And by habitually missing out some responses you close off many opportunities.
Who do you get to be if you only accept? And who do you get to be if you only decline? And which possibilities for relationship and meaningful action would you open up if you started to seriously practice the responses you usually miss out?