Tell Me About It

Tell Me About It



My father left my mother, my two brothers and me when I was in the third grade. He immediately married his other woman. We rarely had visitation with him, and he often missed child support payments. After I was married, I tried to reach out to him a few times, but he never seemed interested and was certainly never sorry because he “deserved to be happy.” His current wife has recently reached out to us. He has lung cancer and wants to see us before he dies. Is it worth my time now? Or is it simply too late?


I think you have to decide which you would regret more: seeing your father or not seeing your father.

A little simplistic, I know, but my point is I don’t think you want to decide based on any expectations of him but instead on expectations of yourself.

If he is dying of cancer and you choose not to visit him, you will never have another chance. You will not get a “do over.” You will never know whether you would have received an apology or answers or even healing, if not for the relationship then for you in some part. Only you can determine whether the possibilities, as slim as they may be, will haunt you later.

On the other hand, if you decide to visit your father, you need to let go of the outcome. Facing death does not always cure individuals of the type of selfishness your father has displayed towards you. And even if he has had a personal awakening, you may not find any particular satisfaction in a repentance that comes so late. If you expect to receive any peace from him, you are likely setting yourself up for another disappointment.

Often, in these situations, no option is a “good” one, and we are stuck picking the “least bad” one. Only you can decide which is the least bad for you.


I have never had much success in saying “no.” And honestly, when I do, no one seems to listen anyway. But I am overwhelmed and stressed, especially at work, because I know I cannot keep up with everything I have taken on. How can I just say “no, thanks” and make people believe me?


“No” is harder for some of us to say than it is for others. But for your emotional safety and now your career health, you simply cannot always be saying “yes.”

So first, just say, “No, thank you.” You shouldn’t prevaricate with “I don’t think so” or “I don’t think I can.” You don’t want to use phrases that allow the other person a glimpse of uncertainty, which translates into a chance for him or her to convince you to take on the task.

Second, you do not have to explain your reasons, but if you choose to do so, you need to keep the answers short, polite and honest. You do not need to lie or expound. For example, you could say: “I am already on two committees and could not bring the time and commitment to your committee that you deserve. But thank you for thinking of me.”

Finally, you need to keep saying “no.” If you have always given in after a token refusal, the other person will always push. Consistency is a must if you wish to change the dynamic. So you say, “no,” then “no” again, and keep saying “no” until the other person accepts the new reality. Do not allow any discomfort to force you into elaborating or tacking on additional reasons. Just keep saying “no.”

With a little practice, you will improve and, eventually, you may even lose those knots in your stomach when anyone approaches you with a new suggestion.

You need to keep in mind that saying “no” is not rude or lazy. We all have limits on the workload we can handle productively. You help no one if you are pulled in too many directions to accomplish any one task completely.

So, know your limits and protect your work efficiency and, more importantly, your emotional health by just saying “no.”


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