“No” is a powerful word.
And not always a negative one. In fact, “no” can be quite positive.
Saying “no” can liberate and empower us. It can help us move forward. It can strengthen our relationships, clarify our communications, and give us the space we need in our lives to say “yes” to what we truly want.
Lately, I’ve felt frustrated when people around me didn’t say “no” when they clearly wanted to. From friends who ignored social invitations—or said “maybe”—to avoid saying “no,” to work colleagues who didn’t respond to emails, to clients who felt overwhelmed because they felt selfish saying “no.”
But when we avoid saying “no,” we leave others to make assumptions. And assumptions derail positive communication.
So why are we so scared or ashamed to say “no”?
Usually, our intentions are good. We don’t say “no” because:
• We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.
• We feel impolite.
• We feel selfish.
• We want to keep our options open.
• We feel uncomfortable saying it so we don’t say it to avoid that feeling.
The truth is that saying “no” is uncomfortable, just as hearing “no” may feel uncomfortable. But after that initial negative feeling, it is actually liberating. “No” brings closure. It allows both sides to move forward. It honours our priorities and boundaries. It stops the other person from assuming so that they know where they stand and what to expect.
The Power of “NO”
NO is a powerful and positive word. I encourage you to say “no” more often when that is what you feel.
Just remember that you may also need to clarify why you are saying no, so that the other person can truly understand. And that’s okay!
As we start new routines this month (as unusual as this fall may be), add saying “no” to yours. Think about the times you don’t say it and consider how this impacts your ability to move forward. Allow others to know where you (and they) stand.