The Power of ‘NO’


In one of the presentation sessions attended at my office, I learnt about this topic “Power of NO”. This topic intrigued me and I was curious to know more about it. I did my search and found out many things about ‘No’ which majorly focused on why, when and how to say to ‘NO’ at any situation, say at work, personal front, in a discussion etc.

Why to say NO?

NO – such a powerful two letter word in the dictionary. Many of us have been raised to think that shooting down someone’s idea or bluntly saying “no” to a request is rude. And while it can be impolite to be dismissive, a habit of saying “yes” to everything can lead to unnecessary stress that holds us back. Saying ‘NO’ is a hidden power because it is both easily misunderstood and difficult to engage. It’s likely that we are unaware of the surge of strength we draw from No because, in part, it is easily confused with negativity. There is a general tendency across humans that whenever we say a blunt NO, they think that the person is being rude and cruel which makes his image look bad and not a kind hearted person.

The word ‘No’ directs us to contain our urges and manage our priorities within an iron fist of reason. All our lives we may work on refining, tweaking it, building it, shoring it up. The huge rewards to say No—not too rigidly, but often enough are productivity and peace of mind. The power of No is in that pay-off where you have peace of mind which yields more productivity.

When to say NO?

NO is a moment of clear choice. It announces, however indirectly, something affirmative about you. In simpler terms,  No says, “This is who I am; this is what I value; this is what I will and will not do; this is how I will choose to act.” It says that while each of us interacts with others, and loves, respects, and values those relationships, we do not and cannot allow ourselves always to be influenced by them. If you are in IT industry (like me) and in the process of career advancement, it becomes even hard to say ‘No’ when your manager or director asks to take up a new task even tough you have enough in you plate already. This is where people tend to say ‘yes’ (or say forced to say ‘yes’) even if they don’t want to take it up because saying ‘No’ would create a negative impact on their personality.

Continuing on the example of working in IT industry, One of the other things noticed regularly is most of us have a pretty strong desire to be seen as friendly and helpful at work, and we don’t want to leave a co-worker stuck with a difficult problem (especially if its a female co-worker :)). Even if you couldn’t care less what your co-workers think, you still want to be the guy who gets things done. The guy people call on to save the day when the chips are down. That “people are depending on me” feeling goes very deep into what drives us as men — being relied on is important to feeling manly. So, in turn, we want to feel reliable, and that means always jumping in, even when we can’t or don’t know what we are jumping into. So, its important to draw a line when to say No.

One of the best example that came to me when thought about it, was a 2-year kid’s nature. This might have happened with almost all of you guys for sure, when you try to pull the child from there parents especially mom, the kid starts to hurl loudly NOOOOOOO which shows his/her will, his/her wishes to be with mom is nothing but a blunt NO by the kid. Thus, drawing a line and saying NO (in their way of crying) to the people even though their intentions are not bad.

How to say NO?

Simply, No is not a warm send. It’s tough to deliver, in large part because we have a gut sense of how it will be received—not well. So we have to wrap it with layers where in we are saying NO to them but in a different way. The example which would make you understand the above said words is ‘Oreo cookie communication strategy’, in which you say something positive (“You are such a warm and charming person”), sandwich in the filling of a tactful No (“I don’t think you and I have a romantic future”), and then end with another cookie (“I have so enjoyed the time we’ve spent together; you really make me laugh”).

Start saying “No” and stop saying “yes” to everything!!

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2 thoughts on “The Power of ‘NO’

  1. Well written ! ‘Saying no’ is a most important skill for everyone who wishes to make more time for what they want to focus on.

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