Updated: Dec 26, 2021
No one likes to be told “no”…well, most of us don’t like it. I know there are people who never hear “no”…even when it’s that direct. They just hear, “not now”…”maybe later”…”try again”…or they hear nothing at all when it’s said.
I’m not one of those people…at least not in my personal life. I guess in business “no” had various meanings depending on the situation and how badly I wanted something. At work, “no” might mean I needed to try a different tactic…rephrase…back off and try again in a week…use the surprise attack…the list goes on and on. I rarely took “no” at face value.
Personally, though, there’s not another word that can cut as quick as “no”, especially depending on the circumstances. It can be harsh. It doesn’t have smooth edges. It’s like swallowing a bite of food whole…it goes down hard and hurts the whole way. It can knock you on your ass like a Tyson knock out punch.
To me, “no” means no. It doesn’t mean, “Maybe.” or “Can I have some time to think about it?” or “You caught me off guard.” or “Is this really important to you?”. It just means “no”. I hear, “I don’t care what you want, I don’t want the same so this conversation is over.”
A mentor of mine said “There are a million ways to say ‘no’, and ‘no’ isn’t one of them.” I guess I took that more to heart than I realized. “No” is cold…impersonal…unforgiving…non-compromising. “No” feels one-sided…closed off…selfish.
The counter argument to that is that it’s better to be direct. To not mince words so as to avoid any confusion. That if “no” really is a solid “no”, why waste time debating a cause that you aren’t going to change your mind about? Totally agree….if this is a business transaction.
The counter to the counter is asking yourself how important the relationship is before dropping that dirty little bomb. Is a quick, harsh “no” the right way to address the issue? Will it hurt the feelings of your friend or loved one and are you ok with that? Do you really mean “no” or is it something you just don’t want to talk about at the moment…and what kind of damage might result?
Even when relationships are easy, they’re still complicated by their very nature. Comprised of at least two unique individuals with their own hopes, dreams, intentions, wants, desires, thoughts, assumptions, expectations, etc….it’s a wonder they’re ever easy to begin with.
Maybe instead of getting hung up on the challenges…the times when “no” really is the answer…maybe we should be hung up on the easy times…in awe that they exist and so very appreciative they ever happened at all. It’s those amazing easy times that ultimately provide the life jacket when the waters get rough.
I mean, where do you go after “no”? I guess you put on the life jacket…float around while you figure out how important the question really was to begin with…and hope for dry land.