3 Quick Steps to Disarming Emergency Requests

by Mindy Kaleta on August 7, 2014


3 Quick Steps to Disarming Emergency Requests


I’m not sure who the author is of this particular quote, but it is a great one to remember when you are feeling like a tornado has just swept through and there is an urgency to take cover!


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You know that feeling…

  • Your boss comes in and screams some instructions at you, while she’s running to her next meeting and calls back over her shoulder “…and oh, yea…I need that by 5:00 today.”  Today?  It’s already 3:30…there’s no way in h#%! that’s gonna happen! But she’s your boss and you think, “What choice do I have?” Argghh!!
  • Your child comes home from school and just remembers to tell you at 9:00 p.m. that he needs two dozen cupcakes for an “All About Me” day of which he is the star!!  You are angry, you want to say, “Well, kiddo, nice time to tell me!  It’s too late now to bake cupcakes!” But you love your child, so you now have to do the midnight run to the local grocery to either grab a box mix or buy bakery cookies and put them on a pretty plate so that no one will recognize that you didn’t bake them. Ugh!


  • Someone you know has just had an emergency happen and needs to ask you for money. But instead of talking with you first about it to see if you could do so, or be willing to help  out, they call you as they are checking out “after services rendered”, with the office staff within ear reach saying, “Could you help me out just this one time?”  And you, confused and irritated with that pit in the bottom of your stomach which means that you feel taken advantage of once again ask, “So how much is this?”  When they tell you it’s over $100…that just catapults you over the top!  What???

These situations, and others like them, can arise out of the blue and catch you off guard for sure. And the above quote does SAY IT ALL!

Ok, folks…here’s the deal.  When people do this, you know, make their emergency your problem… it could be accidental, it could be immaturity, it could be that they are totally unaware that they are doing it or it could be just plain manipulative!  But to really know, you would have to be able to assess the situation without that sense of urgency that they are requiring. When they are in “emergency mode”, we as “people pleasers” tend to dive right in, solve the problem and get them all fixed up, only to have it happen over and over again. Why?  As Dr. Phil would say…”because they can!”  You set it up that way!

So, first off…as we talked about in my two-part series “How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty”, you still need to take a step back, buy a little time, be it for only 5 mins or so…and think it through, check with your gut and create a plan.

So here are 3 Quick Steps to Disarming the proverbial “Emergency Requests”.

1.  STOP…just say, “You know…I need to think this through. Tell me all that you need and I will see what I can do for you.” Gather your information, ask as many questions as you need to get clarity regarding the request. Then excuse yourself for a bit…even if you say, “I have to go to the bathroom, will you excuse me?” (Even if you don’t, you really do, because that little room or stall can give you a few moments of  privacy…well hopefully!)

2.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • “Is this a reasonable request?”
  •  “Can it be done in the timeframe I have to work with?”
  • “Is this request within the limits or boundaries that I have set with this person?”
  • “What does my gut say?  Do I feel taken advantage of right now?”
  • “Do I see this as an intrusion or lack of respect for my feelings, time and resources?”
  • “Is this something that I could comply with today, but will need to establish some ground rules for any future requests?”

3.  Create a Plan – You may decide that ok, you are willing to comply just this one time and go with it.  Or you may decide that it’s happened more times than you can count on both hands and feet and you  “just say no”.  Whatever you decide to do, this is an issue that deserves your attention to create good boundaries and limits.  Writing down the issue and possible responses can help.  Memorize them, or put that slip of paper where you can retrieve it when that tornado comes barreling at you!

For the Boss – It may be time to have that much-needed heart to heart with your boss.  You may feel comfortable letting he/she know your feelings when you are dumped on in that manner.  Only you will know if that would be an option or not.  If it is not an option, it may be time to assess what you are willing to put up with or not; and start looking for a position where you are appreciated and respected.

For your Child – Teaching good manners and making it a part of the “house rules” may be in order.  It could go something like this: “Ya know, when you don’t tell me when you need something until the last-minute, it really makes me feel bad because I really do want to make sure you have what you need for school and activities.  But if you tell me so late, it puts me in a real bind and next time, I may not be able to come up with what you need on time. Then I will need to have a talk with your teacher to let her know why you don’t have the necessary items.  I’m sure you don’t want me to have to do that. Right?”

For Someone Who Is Asking For Money – I know that this doesn’t happen every day, unless you have one of those people in your life that is trying your patience, draining your energy AND your funds. But it does happen!  And when it does, it can get old REALLY fast. Again, you can’t over-estimate the value of sharpening up those good old communication skills. Sometimes, talking does not work as well as you would like…and they don’t seem to GET IT…and in those cases, there just may be the need for an ultimatum.  You always hope that this type of person can be dealt with rationally, but that’s not always possible. But if it goes sour, at least you know that you tried your best. 

We all love these people, we really do and in all honesty, it’s not all their fault. If you are a “people pleaser”, you tend to send your thoughts directly to “He or She needs my help right now. What would be the best way to rescue this person?”  But doing so will in all likelihood create a precedence for it to continue over and over again. But if you’re wanting to kick the “people pleasing” habit altogether and get control of your life again, you will want to implement some of these steps to find a way to end the cycle of frustration and thus create a happier and calmer life.  It may be as easy as setting up a different plan, limits and good boundaries so that everyone understands where you are coming from and how you feel.  Then a discussion about how to proceed would be a good way to create a win-win for each of you!

What’s YOUR deal breaker?  What situation comes up often and where is the line that you draw?  I would love to have some feedback on this. Hop on over to my facebook page and post your answer!! I can’t wait to hear from all of you!!



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