Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Granny says no to cold callers. Setting boundaries.

This is the *extended column, first published in the York Press on August 3rd, 2015.

Junk mail, spam email and cold calling telephone calls are in the news. Enough people must respond to these sales techniques to make it worth the investment  from companies and charities. The same can be said for the flyers that fall out of papers and magazines.  For the majority of us, the mails, flyers and calls are a waste of time and annoying. For a minority, they are damaging. Psychologically and financially.

I take care with any email about financial matters and would never write down bank details in an email.  For posted mail, I have a packet of cheap A4 size envelopes. I write ‘junk mail, remove from database’ all over the mail in red pen, put it in a large envelope and return it to the sender without a stamp. We rarely receive spam mail since I started to use this method of dealing with it. *I find this strangely satisfying. Like getting rid of rubbish at the dump.

There’s not much to be done with automated phone calls, but I try to be polite with real voices. The callers are doing a thankless job for income and are having to work with a script and targets.  Two weeks ago I had just returned home from looking after my five year old granddaughter. A sales call came through and the caller became persistent. I unexpectedly found myself saying, “ As I said to my granddaughter last week, when grannie says no, she means no!”. The caller laughed, but I repeated it firmly and said that I was going to put the phone down. Painless and amusing. Another call came through the next day and I repeated the same words. It worked and those words will now be used on all future cold callers.
I firmly stated boundaries and kept to what I said. It worked with my granddaughter too. 

What about our personal boundary setting? Can we say no to ourselves?  An anti-drugs campaign the 1980s centred around ‘Just say no!’ Simple? No, it isn’t. We don’t want to disappoint, be thought uncaring, start a row, lose a friend or go without. 

* At these times, we can be manipulated and need to watch out for ourselves. Saying yes to too much can leave us mentally and physically exhausted, but the person asking us doesn't really care, as they have their own reasons for their behaviour.

 But when my husband was seriously ill, it became easy to say no to all requests and nobody tried to dissuade me. Though in a highly stressful situation, I couldn’t say no to chocolate and red wine. I deserved it, didn’t I? That’s the other side of self-dialogue. A justifying voice, full of excuses, intrudes, trying to say yes, when we want to say no.

* People would rather blame anything and everybody if they have taken an action, which they then come to regret. But in not taking responsibility, we can lose control of a situation. As children, saying no to bedtime, green veg and sharing toys comes easily, but perhaps it one of the few childish behaviours we should learn to keep at times?

A celebrity of the moment is model and actress Cara Delevingne. She was quoted in a recent newspaper interview saying, “ I love saying no. Before I didn’t and it took a huge toll on my health and happiness.”  It sounds as if she is able to draw her own boundaries in a world full of temptations. I hope she succeeds in a challenging environment.


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