"Hey, how are you placed today?"
This sentence has troubled us more than anything during the last few weeks.
It isn't some random question my wife and I encountered in a Netflix show or a YouTube video.
It's our neighbours asking us to take care of their dog while they go out.
And it all started when we tried to be nice during a friendly conversation and volunteered to take care of our neighbour's dog for a few hours in case of emergencies.
A few days after we made the gesture, my wife got a call from our neighbour asking if we could look after their dog for a few hours.
Having already extended an invitation for the same, we agreed, and they dropped their dog at our place for a few hours.
It wasn't a pleasant experience, but we fulfilled our promise.
But, it didn't end there.
On the contrary, this is where the troubles started.
My wife started getting messages from the same family asking what we were doing the following day or over the weekend and if we could look after their dog again.
We're not pet sitters. We have our jobs and many other things to do during our day.
And even on the days that we're not busy, we would like to cherish our time the way we want, not be driven according to someone else's schedule.
A time-consuming favour once in a blue moon is acceptable. But not at the expense of disrupting our schedule and work.
Realising this, we decided to turn down their request as politely as we could.
But, the requests continued pouring in.
My wife received pet sitting requests from the same neighbours even after we had shown a lack of interest in entertaining further requests from them.
Hell, I remember when the neighbours called my wife at 6 am asking if we could take care of their dog because they had to step out.
If you've already connected the dots, you'd have realised by now that niceness can sometimes be taken advantage of quickly.
You be nice and agree to do something or help someone financially once, and they make it a habit.
It's only a while till you're either frustrated or burned out trying to please people around you and living in fear of sounding too rude to say no.
So, what's the alternative here?
Be rude and selfish all the time?
Be kind and help whenever you genuinely feel like helping.
Not because you feel compelled to do something out of niceness.
The more you try to be a people-pleaser, the more you'll hate yourself.
You'll be a puppet dancing to someone else's tunes.
Your time in this beautiful world is limited.
Be ruthless in protecting it and saying no to unjust requests you know you can't accommodate.
Say no upfront.
There's no point in being too polite and wasting time going around circles like we mistakenly did.
It's better to be clear about your boundaries right from the start.
Don't be a yes man or a yes woman.
Be fair to yourself and respectful of your wishes, and say no more often.