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The power of ‘No’

“Yes and no are very short words to say, but we should think for some length of time before saying them.”

Recently I was in the supermarket and the following scene was played out. A small boy was asking for things from his mother. “No!” said the mother. In fact “No” was the answer so many time that the mother was often ahead of the child’s requests. Finally, in frustration the mother yelled, “Don’t even bother asking me because the answer is going to be NO”. I am sure this type of scene is very common to you too.

Later in the day, I was having a coffee with a friend and I quietly started counting the number of “no’s” I was hearing. You probably know one of these conversations. Sentences may often start an answer with “no” or “not really,” Then I started thinking about how such behaviour may have an impact on our lives.

Later that day when I was trying to decide about another matter I caught myself saying “no” to what easily could have been “maybe” at least and “yes” at best.

So I have been thinking about why do even optimistic people sabotage their happiness and potential with negative thoughts and words and what the consequences are?

gemma-evans-131781So what are some of the costs of no?

It shuts down discussion:

Nothing ends a conversation faster than the one-word answer “no.” Even if it is not your intention, it’s often the result.

It fuels the conflict:

Most of us know (especially if we have teenagers in our lives!) the easiest way to escalate a disagreement is to dig your toes in and stop the conversation with a simple but emphatic, “no” and demand compliance.

It damages the relationship:

If you can predict what I’m going to say before we even have a discussion, how often do you think I will continue coming to ask you? How does that build on our relationship? When do we find common ground? What happens when we have to collaborate and cooperate?

No can be a decisive and useful word when used at special times when a clear, concise response is required. “No you can’t jump off the high board,” or “No, you can’t fudge the numbers to make the results look better”

However “no” closes options, minds, and relationships. It can feel like power, ease, or protection, though this is generally short-lived and a bit naive.

11443-grantalkA challenge for you:

For one day, monitor your language and thoughts. See when you are quick to start with or jump to the negative. Ask yourself, “How is this useful in finding the best solution?” and “How might there be another agenda at play?” Search for options and opportunities. I would be interested in hearing from you how you get on?

“You won’t find a solution by saying there is no problem”

Something completely different

Here is a video that you may like. It asks you to stand in someone else’s shoes…


By Ron Trustin

Motivating baby boomers to see the world with fresh eyes.

Read more articles from Ron here.
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