Einstein said: “I am thankful to all those who said NO. Because of them I did it myself”.
NO is not necessarily a negative outcome concept.
We live with preconceived notions that we may not even be aware of. In usual conversations a Yes denotes a positive aspect and a No a naturally negative aspect.
What about looking at it in a positive light:
- No taxes / No fear
- No liabilities / No worries
- No danger / No excuses
- No doubts / No debt
- No BS / No pain
- No spam / No down-payment and so on.
No does not automatically denote a negative outcome or a negative approach.
In a similar vein Yes has its own variables.
- Did you gain weight? Yes.
- Did you get fired? Yes.
- Did you fail your exams? Yes.
- Are you in debt? Yes. And so on.
We live with certain ideas in our heads that engage a positive or a negative response. The words that resonate for these are Yes and No. We must see them in a slightly different light. At least keep an open mind. Approach life from a different angle. Don’t jump to conclusions when you hear the word No.
It’s a powerful word and also a full sentence. It can break relationships, create hurdles, it can act as a contraceptive, a party-pooper, a failure or a self-disciplining approach. It can be used defensively, to offend, to excite or to even initiate a negotiation.
Inability to say No can also hold you hostage, create challenges, waste time, lead you astray and create enemies. It is an answer to a closed question, a denial, a refusal, a win (No contest), a surprise (No kidding / No way) or even a free offer (No strings attached).
It has a broad range of uses including a way of freeing up your time to do more productive things, provide emotional escape and be empowering. We need to see this very powerful word in all its glory. A tool, of sorts. An instrument that can be utilized for all the above-mentioned reasons, and then some. It has to be heard with contextual sensitivity. It can create ambiguity with a question mark after it (No?). In Management circles it is the buzzword du Jour. Many articles on “How to say No” and “How to say no in 25 other ways” and “The art of saying No” etc. have been doing the rounds, teaching one and all to play verbal Jiujitsu.
It surely can help with providing freedom from unnecessary undertakings. One of the key components of teaching someone to be assertive is to enable them to say no comfortably.
It is one of the hardest words to utter, for most people. Specially if you’re an introvert, shy or submissive person or a people person. One does not want to offend or create schisms or to make someone angry or to make them feel rejected or…… Whatever the case may be, learning how to say No is critical in ensuring your time is spent on things that are constructive for you, while making sure people around you understand the reasons behind it and appreciate your honesty.
It still has negative connotations, clearly. But, since it also has multiple positive attributes as mentioned above, keeping an open mind may save you some ire in the long run.
CEO, 3H Solutions Group
(Uzair.email@example.com / 00971506228126 – call or whatsapp / www.3hsolutionsgroup.com)
An ex-banker and a serial entrepreneur. Trained / consulted in over 15 countries. Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM-UK) as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI-UK). Adjunct professor at a university teaching the executive MBA. Featured in over 20 different publications. Adviser to the American Leadership Board (ALB), Advisor to European Bank for Reconstruction & Development ASB team, A Board member at an OD/HR company & a member of Mensa.