The word “No” is one of the most powerful of words, yet one of the hardest to say. That’s because no one wants to hear it. People would rather say and hear “Yes”. The pressure to say “Yes” starts early. Children are expected to say “Yes” to people in authority. Children want to say “Yes” to parents, coaches and teachers. We are instinctively eager to please.
The Stress of Yes
Saying “Yes” can be easier in the short term, simply because it is the response of least resistance. But in the long run, it can make things harder. All of us have experienced the stress of “Yes”. Too many “Yes’s” and the tasks pile up, frustration mounts, resentment builds, and relationships suffer. Lauren Mackler, life, relationship and career coach, and author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life, notes that while we often say “Yes” to preserve a relationship with a boss, spouse, or friend, an unwilling “Yes” actually has the opposite effect. “Not communicating your needs weakens the relationship.”
The Power of NO
One develops muscular strength by pushing against something – resistance. In the same way, a person develops a strong sense of self by exercising resistance when it’s needed. Saying “No” is one way to do that. “No” is a word of resistance. We can become stronger just by saying it and getting good at it. In this way “No” becomes a more familiar and less negative word to us. “No” can be a positive word because it helps us set boundaries, and stick to our convictions, values and beliefs. “Don’t think of [saying “No”] as being selfish but about taking care of you,” says Mackler.