January 12, 2007

Just Say No

Posted in Lessons Learned, Office Hijinks at 10:51 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I have a real problem saying no. No, not like that; okay, sometimes like that, but I mean, at work. And it is this very failure of mine to just say no that landed me in front of a room full of paralegals finishing their dessert, giving a speech about blogs.

I hate giving speeches.

The very first speech I ever gave was in the eighth grade. Ms. Reese made us all write an essay for entry into the district’s oratorical contest. The topic was overcoming a great hardship. My essay was Defeating the Stigma of Being a Middle Child. Yes, I was only 13 and that smart.

Ms. Reese, a middle child herself, loved my essay and insisted I enter the contest. I did so reluctantly, , only after she promised to coach me in public speaking. I won’t bore you with all the details of the grueling preparation — my mother helping me memorize my lines over breakfast or night- before-nerves. Just know that three minutes into the speech in front of my entire middle school and some parents, I started to cry because I thought they were all laughing at me. Mind you, I was so terrified about speaking in front of all of those people that I had completely forgotten that I had written a joke into the beginning of my speech and that they were suppose to be laughing at what I just said.

Still, not even this humiliating introduction into public speaking has prevented me from agreeing, on occasion, to get up and talk to people. Why? Because I can’t say no.

So when the committee chair of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals Marketing Committee asked me to get up at the next luncheon and say a few words about their new blog my initial instinct wasn’t one of flight. It was to shrug my shoulders and say sure.

Sure. As if I was some poised, confidant, master of ceremonies; as opposed to the neurotic, write-it-all-out-on-index-cards-including-the-places-to-pause-and-breathe-and-look-up scaredie cat that I really am. I didn’t even sleep the night before and I was still shaking for fifteen minutes after I delivered my three-minute talk. Yep. That’s right. I got this worked up about three minutes in front of 20 people.

Fortunately, Patient Paralegal was with me. She has often said to me that she is going to get me a shirt that just says “NO” across the front. Then again, she is one to talk.

Once my shaking subsided and I could cut my chicken again, I turned my ear towards the conversation Patient was having with her neighbor. I overheard her neighbor say, “Well of course you will be there, right?” Patient nodded. The woman replied, “Don’t worry, I don’t need you to do anything for it. Just show up.”

As we left the lunch, Patient and I talked about all the responsibilities she would take on between now and the time of the event. We even joked that by the actual day, she may be responsible for introducing the keynote speaker and of course giving him his reward.

I know it shouldn’t, but it gives me a great amount of solace knowing I am not the only pushover out there.

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1 Comment »

  1. Dana Graves said,

    You’re a very funny writer!

    A link to your blog came up in a search for “paralegal AND litigation” (I was looking for info to post in The Estrin Report blog). I think Estrin readers will really enjoy your writing too: http://estrinlegaled.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/01/and_speaking_of.html

    Thanks for all the laughs!


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