“No” is one of the shortest words in the dictionary. It is also one of the most powerful. This two-letter word has been the centrepiece of many marches and debates, where it has expressed the voice of thousands standing up for their views and rights. On the world stage, slogans such as ‘Say NO to plastic’, ‘Say NO to bullying’, and ‘Say NO to child labour’ have led nations toward change and peace. Unfortunately, on the individual level, the power of no is seldom invoked.
When it comes to interactions, no is not a preferred choice of word for many. Especially, among friends and colleagues. Saying no is seen as disrespectful or impolite, which is why excuses like “I am busy”, “I will try”, “Let me see” are heard every now and then. Some use such phrases to avoid confrontations or to prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt. But this attitude can lead to awkward situations and confrontations where one has to consequentially step out of their comfort zone and do something they were too embarrassed to say no for.
Truth be told, the negative impression around no is a mere figment of our imagination. In reality, no is the same powerful word that can make you look assertive, confident, and resolute when used appropriately.
“We must say ‘no’ to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say ‘no’ to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say ‘no’ to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s,” says author Suzette R Hinton. Saying no when you don’t want to partake in something is as important as saying yes to tasks and activities that make you happy.
Some may not want to do another person’s bidding but are compelled to do so because of the embarrassment or the rejection that may come from saying no. But what if your reasons to say no were legitimate? Is there a way to say no without feeling guilty or embarrassed? In this feature, Soulveda demonstrates the power of no and effective ways to tap into it.