Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Hardest Thing to Learn is How to Say No

I’ve said “yes” to many things in my life. I’ve done so with considerable enthusiasm on many occasions, and with grudging compliance in other instances. Regardless, “yes” has always been easy for me; saying “no,” on the other hand, has not. 

To say that I don’t take kindly to people conducting surveys would be an understatement. The same goes for what I consider as other ongoing nuisances that are an unavoidable part of daily life. They’re especially prevalent in a city like San Francisco. 

That I’ve responded curtly, and more commonly, rudely to such missives would be a fair assessment. I’ve learned that my approach only makes matters much worse. More often than not, my palpable hostility engenders comparable anger. What might have been a routine encounter escalates into a negative experience. It clouds my thinking and mars the remainder of my day.

Now, as I’ve written here previously, sometimes you have to respond in kind when people get in your face. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m referring to the infinite number of daily interactions that ask us to decide: yes or no?

That’s why I’ve been spending time improving on my ability to say no. Because I’ve learned that how I choose to do so reflects on me. That’s regardless of the relative merits of the request before me. In other words, if I want my world to respond to me favorably, I need to respond with a deft touch. I need to frame my retorts with a smile on my face. I need to remind myself that the inquiries demanding a response typically have no ill intent. Nor are they typically geared towards me as an individual. 

Besides, “no” is a complete sentence. I don’t need to say or do anything else to communicate my point. 

In short, it’s easy to say yes but a lot harder to say no with equanimity and even charm. It’s the latter area that demands my attention over time. 

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