No. Did You Know That This Is a Complete Sentence?

Plus 3 pretty ways to say “No”

For many of us, “no” may be the hardest word to voice. But why is voicing a petite word of just two letters and one syllable fraught with so much fear and angst? Why do so many of us choose to live whole lives built on lies and damn lies rather than hear or say, “No?”

Well, maybe it’s because we think we’ll be judged as “mean,” “unkind,” “not nice,” and/or “not a team player.” If this is the fear, is this the truth?

Is “No” a Dirty Word?

It’s fair to say most of us want to be thought of as “nice.” After all, isn’t being “nice” the ultimate end goal of socialization? Aren’t we programmed and conditioned to take the path of least resistance and most acceptance?

But are we “mean,” “unkind,” “not nice,” or “not a team player” when we say “no” to who we are not or what doesn’t work for us?

Isn’t saying “yes” when we want to say “no” cowardly and a crime against self? And what is the real price we pay for taking the path of most “acceptance?”

Love the Word “No” and Use It

There are probably those in my inner circle who would argue that I came out of my mum’s womb crying the baby version of the word “no.” 😊 But like most people, I’ve had my moments when I struggled with the will and the strength to voice my “no.”

However, most of the time, my “no’s” do seem to fly out of my mouth before I can cower and muck them up being “nice” at the expense of my values and my authenticity. In other words, I choose not to stifle and bury my “no.”

Fact is, I looove to hear the word “no,” especially when it comes from the heart.

When it comes from me, I’m proud as a glorious Indian peafowl  that I was courageous enough to be true to my values, my thoughts, my feelings.

And when it comes from others, I respect that they are comfortable enough with themselves and/or me to be authentic. At least now, there’s a real possibility for a meaningful connection. And, just as important, they’re not squandering my time–my life.

But here’s a key thing to appreciate about why it’s important to voice our “no:”

If we can’t freely voice our “no” to someone, this relationship is as robust as a sandcastle situated where the ocean meets the beach.

Furthermore, until we can say “no” freely to the things we don’t want, we can’t say “yes” to the things we do. If we’re unable to say no freely, we’re a slave to the whims or the conceit of others–and our life is not our own.

But… but how do we say “no” and minimize potential negative fallout?

3 Pretty Ways to Say “No”

OK, you get it. I love the word “no.” I stand by the word “no.” I love saying the word “no.” But for most of us, it’s too hard. We just can’t do it. So, what are we do? Well, I’ve got you covered.

Here are three “pretty” ways to say “no” when we want to be honest; but, frankly, we’re feeling just a little Pee Wee Herman or a flat-out “no” just ain’t right.

So, here we go. How about…

  • a civilized, non-confrontational “No, thank you?”
    The trick here is to keep our tone low but firm.
  • or, a direct “That won’t work for me?”
    This one works best if we look them in the eye and flash them our sincerest beauty contestant smile.
  • and, finally, a forthright “I’m not interested?”
    OK, be careful with this one. Again, begin with that smile, and then follow-up immediately with “Please, pass the gravy” or something similarly mundane and appropriate to the conversation.

Of course, which approach we choose depends on the place, time, and person we’re engaging with. Choose wisely.

And then, we must do this…

Explain Nothing, Defend Nothing

The key to victoriously using any of the strategies above is this…

We have to will ourselves to shut up after we utter the key word(s.) Just zip it.

Part of becoming self-actualized adults is knowing when it’s appropriate to say “no” without defending or explaining ourselves, which is almost always.

Because the minute we start explaining or defending it, our “no” becomes impotent, flaccid. Explaining and defending shrinks the power of our “no;” reveals our lack of assurance; raises our blood pressure; and makes our underarms moist and sweaty.

The truly free man is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.

~ Jules Renard. French writer

And after all the strength it took for us to finally climb the mountain of “my thoughts matter and I value my feelings,” don’t ruin every thing with idle chatter!”

Final Thoughts

“No” is not a dirty word.

“No” can stand alone as a complete sentence. Yes, it can.

“No” is often not an easy word to voice. But if we’re to live authentic lives and give voice to who we truly are and what we value, we must master the art of decisively voicing our “no’s.”

Voicing our “no” is not mean. And it should never be used to intentionally hurt or harm.

But saying “yes,” when the right answer for us is “no” is a crime against the self. And the quality of our lives depends as much on what we say “no” to as what we say “yes” to.

10 thoughts on “No. Did You Know That This Is a Complete Sentence?”

  1. WOW! Thanks for this post. It makes me realized how easy it is to say NO without feeling guilty. Going forward, I will definitely be using my NO! without feeling that I have to make excuses and explanations.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. You’re a great writer Janine. Defending or explaining your No deflates the whole point. Remember…smile

  3. No means no babe, not perhaps or maybe! I find saying no, that does not work for me right now helpful. It has been and still is a journey getting to no.


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