Holly Bennett, a freelance copywriter from Kings Lynn learns tto say no.
So here’s the schoolgirl error: like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I agreed to hand over four English pounds for a rather puny-looking mackerel. Yes, you heard right (though I wasn’t sure I did); for one of the most abundant ‘budget’ fish in the sea, I paid nearly a fiver. So why on earth did I not just say ‘no’ and hot-foot it to a cheaper establishment, after getting into my very own fish fight with the fishmonger?
To explain, I live in a rural location (‘The Breadbasket of England’, containing enough wheat fields to make Dr Atkins turn in his grave), where the cost of living is pretty reasonable. But this particular town, nicknamed ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’, teems with ladies who enjoy at least two skiing holidays a year, have facials on speed-dial and wouldn’t blink at paying £10 for a Cromer crab any more than they would the price of a second home in the Côte d’Azur.
So it’s safe to say that pointing out a pricy piscis would have screamed that I am both self-employed and wholly aware that Tesco currently has a BOGOF on custard creams.
But not being able to reject something extends far beyond my shopping for tasty morsels, as I found to my professional cost.
Emailing a potential client about my charges, I committed the foolish error of uttering the following doomed words: ‘What rate would you be happy to pay per hour?’ Press ‘send’; cue horrible, 3am sweats-type regret. Unsurprisingly, the offer was far less than I normally charge and I was now that self-same rabbit backed into a corner with no other option than to accept.
"Not being able to reject something extends far beyond my shopping for tasty morsels, as I found to my professional cost"
All of which makes me wonder why I feel bad about saying ‘no’. I don’t doubt that if I’d have lobbed the fish back at the fishmonger, and offered my usual hourly rate to the client in question, I would have won on both counts. And I’d have also maintained the integrity of my profession by not undervaluing my skills, and in turn shown the confidence and self-belief that a lot of men seem to find a doddle.
I don’t for a second suggest saying ‘no’ in every instance. It means missing out on new tastes, exciting experiences and general high-kicking fun and frolics. But how many times have you said ‘yes’ to an event which you knew would be yawningly dull, and by 10pm vowed to improve your ability to construct believable, off-the-cuff excuses in the future? I’d guess it’d be quite a few.
So there’s only one thing for it; instead of spring cleaning my cupboards, I’m going to spring clean my approach to these testing situations, when saying ‘no’ would be as good for me as the Omega-3 oils in that mackerel.
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Picture credit: Rex Features