Wednesday 27 October 2010

The hidden power of the monosyllable NO

Have you ever tried saying NO to someone close to you or somebody whom you think will understand when you say a NO. Well, if your answer is in the negative, you belong to a luckier selection of humans. I am tempted to use the cliched sentence: There are two kinds of people in this world -- the forever 'yes' ones and the 'no' ones. The former are found everywhere but the latter exist in obscure pockets.

I classify myself as occupying a place in between: A sometimes 'no' person but that does not work well with me. Eventhough from childhood, I have been taught to state my preference, I did not know that certain preferences are taken far too personally.

Sometimes my mother assigns some task to me and she also tells me that I can either do it or not. I opt for the latter and then . . . everyone in the house seems to think that I am a disobedient child. I have grown up too much that I can vociferously say a 'no.' I get confused by this outbreak and finally do the chore assigned to me to prevent further outbursts.

I thought it would be easier with friends. But no. Many times, friends take it for granted that one should always be a 'yes' person if we are united by the thread of friendship. A simple 'no' can lead to a cast-down face, sullen expression, stern behaviour and some talks on the bond (age) of friendship. So much so for a 'no.'

For many years, 'yes' and 'no' were the same to me. I could either choose to do something or not but what I did not realise was that there are many emotional strings attached to these simple words. An 'yes' can open up joy and happiness while a 'no' always triggers negative vibes. It is very rare to stumble upon a person who can take both answers in the same stride.

Probably that is why in this part of the world, no one easily utters a 'no' for fear of many repercussions. Most of us are 'yes, I will do it' people. Examples of 'yes' seeps into almost every aspect of our life: relationships, food, jobs,  and others.

Does your culture allow you to say 'no'? Leave culture, what is your idea of uttering 'no' to someone?

Image: Internet


  1. My culture doesn't make it polite to say 'No'. But who cares. I'll say it anyway if i mean it. ;D

    You will soon gain respect for your stand. People will just soon learn to accept that even if they don't like it at first.

  2. I just love to visit you my dear Susan, another great post;)

    I share you own sentiments about saying *no*. Exactly as you say, the consequences of declining rather than accepting are most of the time negative.
    As a young woman, when I was terribly insecure, saying *yes* to any request meant i had not to deal with any conflict, but in the long run, if I agreed to something I did not like, it meant I created conflicts within me, leaving myself unhappy.
    Thus the older I get, the easier I have in saying a firm, but polite NO to something that doesn't fit with me and feels wrong. I still say more yes than no to people that mean a great to me as at times this unselfishness is a reward in itself;) So I guess I choose my *yes* and *no* more wisely.;)

    On another note my dear friend, thank you again for the BON nomination and for your absolutely kind words on my today's post and at WOW.;)
    You are truly one in a million my dear Susan,

  3. I used to find it awfully difficult to say 'no'. There were many who took advantage of my 'particular' weakness. But over the years, I've picked up the art of politely declining to do something I didn't want to do. We can't make everybody happy all at once, can we ;p

  4. It is an ART---- to learn to set boundaries and stay in your center, but there will always be times that necessitate compromises. Having the good sense and wisdom to know when to say No gracefully and firm and set your clear boundaries, and when it is wiser to compromise. I am getting close. There is always the inner guidance if we learn to communicate and take our time before responding - something that I do not always do, and there lies my dilemma.


  5. The No or Yes.... have face it my life many times. When I use to say YES things never went smoothly as expected! When it was a NO it was even worst. In the end I was the one getting hurt. My practice(now) has taught me to be honest about the YES/NO and to set boundaries....
    I am someone who is upfront and honest and this has helped me.....

  6. yes we do get to say no...but unfortuantely many dont...they just keep doing more and more until exhaustion...when you say no to one thing you say yes to another...

  7. I have found your 'yes' 'no' senerio has become a good test of real friendship. A person who accepts my 'no' stays my friend but one who cannot handle my 'no' - bye, bye. I will be polite to that person but he or she is not friend material.

  8. I'm pretty good at saying No, but sometimes too good. I find I cut myself off from some opportunities sometimes.... Where is that happy medium ground?

  9. thank you for this thought provoking post. I appreciate all the comments for they have stirred a curious thought in me. Could it be a female trait to constantly want to fix, take care of and please the other?

    I understand that there are some males in this category but the t.v. shows, bookstores, and self help groups are filled with stories and courses on how to say 'no'. The gender, who most of the shows etc. are based around, are women. Women tend to neglect themselves because they are always giving to their families, friends or community, for the sake of love.

    you are right. it is hard to say 'no' The word is negative and produces a barrier which I very much feel when I say it. Why is that?

    anyways, this is just a woman's point of view.

    Now that I think about it more, if we can't say 'no' for the sake of love then that includes both genders.

    just a thought

    take care

  10. Even today, I would love to say 'no' at the right time. I am too feeble to do that!

  11. I used to be a "yes" person, maybe still am a little. But as I've aged I've learned that honesty is best for me. I cannot be responsible for other's reactions. They can accept or not. I feel more peace when I respond honestly rather than saying yes when I mean no.

    I do say a huge "yes" to life in general and try to stay positive.

    Thank you always for your stimulating thoughts.

  12. I had a problem saying NO. Being able to say NO is important for a healthy survival. Nothing wrong with that. At times the other person genuinely wants a yes or no and your obligation to say them yes now will become a mutual pain later. So I grew up learning how to say NO. I still learning. I am doing good till now.

  13. Must admit I am 'yes' person on average... But I've learnt to say NO, especially to my family and friends...

    What I find a real pleasure is to say NO to acquaintances and colleagues... that really feels gooood- especially if you mean it!- of course.

    It's difficult, but liberating. I've learnt and experienced it gives you self reliance and confidence...

    Sometimes I might feel guilty, so after the 'no' I go and say...' well OK 'yes' but on condition that...'or something like that.

    I think it's really importatnt to be able to say NO. There are subtle ways to do so, e.g nodding as you say NO or saying... I must think about it... or 'I'll tell you tomorrow...'

    Wise thought provoking and great- as usual, dear Susan.

    Joy and hugs!

  14. I have absolutely no problem saying no... especially when it involves relatives or other folks I hardly know. Sometimes when it involves people I really like then I'll consent even if I don't want to.

  15. I hate saying 'No', but sometimes necessary. Then I tell a white lie, why I cannot do it, so that the other party does not feel it is a full outright NO! Sometimes I wonder why I even need to lie, can't I just say 'NO'!

  16. My culture, my dear friend, is very similar to your culture in more than one way. My culture is not a NO culture. We are expected to say yes. And there is that reverse psychology that is ever present... "Will you please do this?... Oh, but only if you want to." That stifles me. For years, while I lived at home, I was a YES person. It was easier to say yes than to battle with the grumbly reactions that followed. Ever since I left home, I've become more honest about how I feel. No is no. And if I say no it's not because I'm being mean or difficult... it's because what ever you are asking is inconvenient... or inappropriate... or I simply don't have the time. I also feel it is better to be straightforward and just say NO, and not to beat around the bush. I can say YES and then use that passive-agressive approach and not do what I was asked on the sly. But why kid around?

    You do come up with such interesting topics, Susan. I know I've told you that countless times. But... countless... is not quite enough.

    Wishing you a lovely remainder of the week.


  17. Silver:

    Hmmm. We gain respect but still sometimes people get hurt, you know.


    Thanks for your very kind words, dear Zuzana. You make me smile from ear to ear. The older we get, we more we want to be kind and nice and so we oblige.

  18. RGB:

    I think it has to do a lot with our culture. A tad difficult to change.


    Truly. It is an art which we master after a long time. The inner guidance sometimes poses a problem to me.

  19. Savira:

    One has to be judicious in stating our opinions. It is a difficult path to trudge.


    Very true.

  20. GQ:

    GQ, the way you say it, you make it sound very easy but reality is far different.


    Good for you. I wish I had that grit when it comes to very close people like family and extended family.

  21. Hope:

    Thank you very much for your warm words. Much appreciated. Gender also plays a role. Women find it harder to say 'no.'

    You take good care as well.


    You are like me. Blame it on our culture.

  22. Myrna:

    The question of honesty does not come into foray as much as keeping teh relationship does. We want to have amiable realtionships and so we don't utter a 'no.' Sad but true.

    I am an 'yes' person to life! That's a lovely thought, dear Myrna.


    NO is liberating for sometime for me and then I wonder about different things. After two days, normalcy returns!

    Big hugs to you dear Dulce.

  23. Karen:

    Hmmmm. Good for you.


    We think because it is just not that easy when it comes to people we love and care.

  24. Sameera:

    I am still learning. Hope the lessons get over soon :)


    So many similarities. We don't think of our actions as being mean but it always gets interpreted so and that is my grouse, dear Nevine. I should grow up maybe.

    Big hugs and much love, dear Nevine.

  25. It depends. Though it is difficult to say "NO", it is must to say depends on the situation. But, we should be polite while saying this word :)

  26. Jarlin Paul:

    Welcome to the meanderings. Glad to have you here. It definitely depends on the situations and most of the times we compromise. Thanks for the insights and the following. Much appreciated.

    Joy always :)

  27. Great Post Susan :)
    I have learnt to say no (trying my best to do it in a polite manner)and have recieved reactions very similar to what you have mentioned here...I feel that it is all right to not affirm to anything which our heart doesn't feel like doing. It might have its own negatives but its worth it!

  28. Dear Ruchi:

    Glad to know that you have learnt how to overcome something which is not quite easy. It is definitely worth it!!

    Big hugs and happy weekend :)



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