Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Say No to Users

Users are people (family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, or strangers) who believe in two things:
1) Something for Nothing
2) The Pleasure Principle

Let me explain.

When someone is using you, they have a very specific rationale for why that's okay.  From the user's perspective, it is his or her God-given right to ask AND receive things from other people without having to give back anything in return (hence, something for nothing).  

In fact, from a user's perspective, their using you does give you something back: the gratification of being able to help them (pleasure principle).  

Users employ a variety of tactics, including:
* guilt/blame/shame
* hardball negotiation
* playing hard to get ("No, I couldn't let you do that... okay")
* hopelessness ("I don't know what I'm going to do")
* final resort ("I wouldn't come to you if it wasn't an absolute emergency")
* temper tantrums ("You know you can help me but you won't!")

The list could go on and on.

Users get better over time at using.  Remorse or guilt are not a part of their vocabulary.  From a user's point of view, if you agree to help, it's your problem if the result you get from them isn't what you expected because "You knew what you were dealing with" and don't even ask for a favor in return.  When you need them, they are no where to be found.  

Doesn't that make you mad?

Well, let's get to the bottom of this user phenomena right now.  

Users will not stop using you until YOU stop letting them.  Although very misguided, users are right about one thing: your helping them is a choice you are making which means the consequences are also a choice you are allowing for.

If you want to end the vicious cycle of users in your life without getting bitter or resentful, here are six steps you must take:

Step 1: Get comfortable with being the "bad" guy.  Your opinion of you is the only opinion you need to be concerned about.

Step 2: Stop lending money to people who you know won't pay you back.

Step 3: Conduct the user test.  Don't call your user associates for a week or two and see if and when they call you.  If they don't even so much as drop you a text to say "Hi, how goes it?" or only call when they need something, you've got a user on your hands and there's no real relationship going on.  Let them go.

Step 4: When a user asks you to spend your precious time doing something for them (like babysitting, laundry, or typing), charge them for your services with with payment due in advance.  If someone else was going to do it, the user would pay them.  Why not you?

Step 5: Don't bend your boundaries.  If every Sunday is your day of rest, your "you" time, and a user asks you to do something on that day, say "No" and offer another day.  You teach people how to treat you and if they know they can walk over you and get what they want, users will.

Step 6: Be real with yourself about the relationship.  So many of us have fantasies of how we'd like our families and friendships to be and we let those people use us because we think that our support will make them into those poeple.  Not so! 

Guess what?  Change is a personal choice and most users like who they are and how they live.  If they aren't co-creating the kind of relationship you desire, that's their choice not to co-create with you and your choice not to be used.  There are too many other people in the world who you can co-create with to be stuck on folks who aren't interested in an equal exchange.  

Users exist.  We often find them in our own families.  Don't judge them for being this way.  Recognize who they are, love them as they are but love yourself enough to say yes or no when you want to say yes or no.  

Not being used is a key component of Staying Strong because you can't be 100% focused, on fire, living your dream if you are bombarded by people who are sucking the life out of you.  

You need every bit of energy and passion you can muster and that means you release the users. Sometimes, love is best from afar.  

Need more help in releasing the users in your life?

Become a premiere Stay Strong member today! 

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