Want to know one of the most powerful words in the English language? It only has two letters. That word is No.
It is made even more powerful because the default answer to almost every question these days is “Yes.”
Advertising is EVERYWHERE and focuses on getting us to say “yes”.
“Yes, I want that” and “Yes, I need that.”
So many of the questions we ask are looking for a “yes” response.
Richard Branson famously said:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
With such a powerful default answer ingrained in us it can be very difficult to say anything else. But what if it isn’t an amazing opportunity? What if the thing we are being asked to say yes to isn’t right for us?
When someone expects us to say yes, we can feel trapped by their question. We may fear the reaction we will get if we don’t say yes (but that doesn’t mean we should say it).
No is a complete sentence
We should feel able to say no whenever we wish (and without always having to justify our answer).
If you’re not saying “HELL YES!” about something, then say no.
“No” is one of the most powerful words you can use. Not only for setting boundaries with others, but for creating clarity for ourselves.
Before we give a default “Yes” or “No” we need to figure out what is important to us. What are the outcomes we are trying to create? Who do we want to be? How do we want to show up?
What is your gut response to the question you are being asked? Are there any sensations you notice in your body as you allow the question to percolate? What is your inner voice telling you?
Does the thought of saying yes excite you (or does it drain you and fill you with dread)? How about the idea of saying no? Does that make you feel more at peace or like you will have missed an important opportunity?
Don’t say yes unless you mean it. Saying yes when you mean no can lead to resentment. It can build into frustration. We can end up confused about why we said yes and annoyed at ourselves for doing so. This can lead to all kinds of mental and emotional challenges. In extreme cases it can even impact us physically.
When you get clear on if something is a hell yes or a hell no, you then need to act on it. The first part of this is being honest with yourself. The next, and sometimes more challenging part, is sharing that honesty with others.
This is especially true when we are saying no to those we care about.
One trick here is to build your ‘no muscle’. Like any muscle, the more you use it the more effective it becomes.
Try saying “no” to small things first. Things that won’t have a huge impact on the person asking the question. Maybe even things where the only person who would gain by saying yes is you. People are unlikely to get offended if you say no to them getting you a coffee for example.
Notice how you feel when you say no (especially when you mean it). There should be a sense of contentment, satisfaction or even relief.
Notice how your body reacts. Are you feeling more alive and excited? Experiment with saying no. Set clear boundaires that help you feel comfortable and empowered.
Get comfortable with saying no to easy things. Build that muscle ready for when a more challenging (but important) no is needed.
Say No To Something You Already Said Yes To
This is when you really get to test those muscles. What is something you said yes to when you really meant no? How can you go back and explain that you are no longer able to agree? Once again this is about honesty.
Some say to be brtually honest. I say to be kind. Be compassionate. But, still be completely honest.
You are allowed to change your mind. Do not allow guilt or shame to colour the communication. Share your decision with clarity and when appropriate, explain the reasons for your change in position.
The sooner we are open and honest, the easier it is. The sooner we learn what to sa