Learning to Say No

Saying no ought to be pretty easy. As parents, we tell our kids no all the time. But as PTA volunteers, chances are you have trouble saying no when someone asks you to do something. At a PTA training, the trainer asked the group what was the one characteristic that linked everyone at the training. The first answer was, “An inability to say ‘no’ when asked.” There are a lot of different reasons why we don’t say no—we don’t want to let down the kids or the principal, one of our friends from PTA is asking, or we want to be seen as a team player.

Edutopiarecently published an article on getting comfortable with saying no. While aimed at teachers, the article also applies directly to PTA volunteers as well. Learning to say no when someone asks you to take on another volunteer position is important. If your heart isn’t in the task or your skill set doesn’t align well with what the job needs, saying yes can lead to a lot of stress and frustration for you or an event that reflects poorly on the PTA.

The article suggests asking yourself a few questions before you say no.

  • Why are you saying no?
  • When you say no, are you offering a solution?
  • What do you want?

We often avoid saying no because it feels awkward after we do or because it sounds too final and absolute. The article also suggests three ways to say no.

  • May I have time to reflect?
  • I’ll need a day to think this through.
  • I believe in risk taking, but I’ll need to calculate this one.

All three of these responses provide you with the time to think through your answer and to do what’s best for both you and your PTA. Read the full article for further information on these questions to ask yourself and ways to say no.