That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.
While Rome Burns (1934),’Our Mrs Parker’.
Burnout? I know burnout. At one point in my life I worked three jobs at 350 km apart. I worked at a private language institute in one part of the country and held two teaching positions at the University in the opposite part of the country. Sleeping on the bus was the most quality rest I had in those days. But I learned my lesson about downsizing. This post is about a different kind of burnout.
Do what you love
According to William J. Reilly, the best way to avoid work is to do what you love. I love being an EFL teacher. Teaching is not what burns out my energy. On the contrary, the creative process of lesson planning is the wind beneath my wings, the classroom interaction brightens me up no matter how crappy my day is, and finally, connecting with teachers on Twitter boosts my enthusiasm to go on. True, the Bologna reform, or at least the way my institution implemented it, has introduced an insane amount of paperwork into teaching, but I buckle up and get it over with.
Avoid doing other people’s work
I’m finally getting to my point. I work as a teaching assistant and as such I am at the bottom of a food chain at the academia. Saying ‘no’ from such a position is extremely difficult. I still haven’t learned how to go about it. My friends used to say about me that whenever I get confused, I say ‘yes’. Doing work for other people which usually comes up at the eleventh hour is what stresses me out and wears me down.
How to say ‘no’ in three steps
Elizabeth Scott, stress management guide, recommends the following:
- Instead of saying ‘no’ which might seem too straightforward, say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that now’
- Avoid over scheduling by saying ‘Let me think about it and get back to you’
- Negotiate by saying ‘I can’t do this, but I can …’
This is my long term goal and a way to avoid burnout. Will let you know how it goes. What about you? What are your strategies for saying ‘no’ in impossible situations?