In part, it’s because the irregularity of our schedules makes it difficult to know how much time we actually have available. But I think there’s another reason academics find saying no so hard. We’re programmed to please. We were the “good kids,” most of us, the students at the top of the class. We were taught that being offered a responsibility was a good thing. When people ask us to do something, they affirm our sense of self-worth, particularly when they say something like “we thought you’d be good for this.”
Be careful when you hear that phrase! Make sure that you pause and evaluate the request, no matter how thrilling this praise may be, or how exciting you think the requested task might be. Be wary of saying yes–even if you feel pressured. Make sure that you pause and evaluate the request, no matter how exciting you think it might be. It’s important to be proactive and to plan even before the next request comes.
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