Making an expression of distaste, pretending that you didn’t hear a part of somebody’s sentence, or worse still, nodding only to get past the situation, is among the many ways of saying ‘no.’ ‘No’ has metamorphosed into everything it is not. The fuel and force behind the utterance of this monosyllabic word of disagreement, has been lost. ‘No’ might as well be uttered as a yes, at times becoming a distinct facial contortion before morphing into a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s not even a word, as much as it is an expression or unsaid thought. Instead of falling into the arms of acquiescence, saying ‘no’ holds much more value, because it means you are standing up for something you believe in. If saying ‘no’ means making enemies, you may as well make them than have overly compliant people agreeing with each other till their doomsday. It has to be stressed, ‘no’ shouldn’t be a comma in a sentence, to which you can make countless additions, but should instead be akin to a full-stop.
‘No' is perceived as a harsh word, one that feels more like an insult rather than a momentary break from compliance or a mere disagreement about a topic of interest. However, ‘no’ can be said lightly, in a soft tone but it needs to be uttered with resonance and not hushed or disguised.
Yes, it’s become harder to say no, which is all the reason why you should. Anybody may try to turn your yes into a no, but the firmness and force of the word ought to come through in this instance. Of the many words that are lost in contemporary fashion, ‘no’ ought to have a niche carved for itself. People pleasers and those who are afraid of rejection find it increasingly difficult to say ‘no,’ be it to an invitation or to simply disagree with a statement. There’s nothing wrong in disagreeing, showing disapproval or even being direct with your emotions. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you owe anybody an explanation, and it simply means prioritizing what is important to yourself. In the same vein, ‘Yes’ should not be voiced out of obligation or a fear of missing out on a situation. ‘No’ creates boundaries and defines an individual’s beliefs and it’s always better to say no than disguise your yes as a no.
It is psychologically believed that saying ‘yes’ too often only reduces its impact. Saying yes, might place you on a pedestal in somebody’s eyes, but only in the short run. In the long term, too many yeses only lead to your time being taken for granted. Some people are wired to agree and say yes to everything, but in the process, they devalue themselves and their time. In some instances, saying yes and agreeing to what any stranger or familiar person may say, leads to them taking advantage of you. There are countless stories of people being swindled, just because they struggled to utter the word ‘no’ and entrusted the wrong company with their ‘yes.’ That’s just one of the few concerns of throwing a ‘yes’ so easily. It might as well be a part of a chant that’s created to force people into submission and complete obedience. Saying ‘no’ is feared especially when it comes to conversing with figures in positions of authority, however, this is more the reason to disagree and share your honest thoughts. ‘No’ sets boundaries and allows you to ensure power is not being misused by bringing every individual to forced compliance. Sometimes, saying no allows a person to separate those who genuinely intend to spend time with you from those pretentious persons who simply extend an invitation to maintain good relations with everybody. Knowing the difference is as important as knowing when to agree and disagree.
In the current climate, no has become harder to voice, but it’s ‘yes’ that everyone should think twice about. ‘Yes’ is easier said than done. ‘No’ in its reception holds more weight, and allows a person to be understood for their true selves. Saying ‘yes,’ just to feed into your desire of being well-liked and pleasing everybody, makes ‘yes’, a double-edged sword. Not only will others not value your time, but you, yourself will lose track of your time. Sometimes, staying silent and simply saying no more is not as wise a choice as saying ‘no’ more.
Illustration: Lucy Westenberger