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No means no

Here are some examples of where/why saying ‘no’ or the equivalent, is difficult yet incredibly important.

  1. To turn down a job offer is never easy. Someone has sought you ought, evaluated you, liked you, and requested you to join them. It might even feel liberating – to get out of your current role, where you’ve been battling bosses and co-workers for years. But good and bad bosses and co-workers will be everywhere. Many offers (opportunities) will come your way, but you cannot tell yes to all of them. No will do, even if the person on the other side is very senior / successful.
  2. Leaving on time, if you have another engagement, but you are the only one in your group. Very hard! To get up and leave in the middle. Or even to request to end a Zoom call at the end of the scheduled 1 hour, even though the person on the other side is very senior. Pro tip? If you can wiggle out well, it will demonstrate to the other person how you value everyone’s time and schedule, even though having such a conversation could be difficult.
  3. Parents nowadays rarely say no to their kids. And kids know how to take advantage. Making a big scene, crying in public/crowded/closed places etc. are easy ways to force the parents to give in. But saying no, is a show of strength, as the kid learns that life does not grant every wish.
  4. Maintaining confidentiality / secrets when required is another thing I’ve seen people struggle with – all the more when the person asking is a good friend or a very senior veteran in the industry or even one of your largest clients. “How could I possibly say no?” In fact, its the other way around. If you don’t say no, the other person can safely conclude that you may be loose-lipped about their confidential information as well.
  5. Saying ‘yes’ to family members sometimes seems like a no-brainer. But relationships are complex, and saying yes can be the equivalent of falling down the rabbit hole.

In all the above examples, the ‘no’, conveyed with sensitivity rather than spite – will make all the difference. Yes is good, but in certain situations, ‘no’ is the right answer.

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