The Positive Teacher Network is all about becoming aware of what we are doing and how we can improve, streamline or change things to improve our lives.
I've talked about lots of strategies and tools to increase happiness, reduce stress and improve work life balance. But there is one simple tool that is probably underused.
Knowing when to say 'No'
Saying no does not have to be a negative thing. Saying no can be very beneficial for everyone if it means that you don't overstretch yourself. Teachers are often very good at thinking about everybody else's needs and thus may end up feeling overwhelmed by all the demands and expectations on them.
So how do we say no so people listen?
If people are used to us always saying 'yes' there can be an expectation that is hard to combat. Even if you try and say no to something, there might be an underlying assumption that you probably will anyway when it comes to it.
So, here is a tip to try:
Say 'no' but offer a solution. This might be "no I can't attend that meeting but I could make it for 4 o'clock" - a clear opener to something that works better for you.
"No, I can't make that meeting but if you send me the minutes I will go through them and let you have any contributions I might have"
"Sorry I can't do that but what about something else, someone else or another time"
Basically enter into a negotiation
If they are expecting a 'yes' from you, then find a way to give a little but still maintain your standpoint, which is the thing being asked of you will not work. There is no need to justify your reasons, or excuses because you are offering a solution instead.
This can really help people to not feel guilty about saying no and makes people a lot more likely to listen because they are not left hanging, you are giving them a solution to their problem. You saying no, does not need to be perceived as a problem in the way that it may otherwise have been.
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd also love to hear other peoples' views on being able to say no.
Looking after ourselves means saying no to things. Cut out stuff, don't just add more to your plate. Work life balance requires us to say no sometimes.
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.