A friend of mine, a polyglot, speaks seven languages – English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Spanish, French and German, if that interests you! – but, he can’t say “No” in any of them.
This friend has gingerly carted a mother’s heirloom gift for her daughter: a 36-piece fine china dinner-set, no less, across the Atlantic. At the cost of his marriage, he has substituted for his colleagues who “just couldn’t comply with the boss’s request” and worked numerous weekends at the demand of the same boss.
Not getting it right
He has hunted high and low for an elusively available, hideously expensive face-creme – commuting to and fro various stores, the cost of the creme not included in the request – this is just one of the things on a long shopping list handed over by a friend. He has smiled his way through and later fallen seriously ill, thanks to a really badly cooked and horrendous meal. And, all this because he just can’t get himself to say “No.”
“No.” Two simple syllables; it can emerge from your mouth in a nanosecond, but it is so difficult to say, and even more difficult to hear. Two simple syllables that label you with adjectives that were alien to your personality before you uttered them.
The moment you trade the three syllables of “Yes,” for the two of “No,” you are instantly “self-centred” and “mean,” and other similarly-related words. Two simple syllables that instantly turn around – and, rarely for the better, mind you! – and, determine what people think of you.
From the greatest “friend” you become the greatest “fiend,” because you dared [My, what gumption, really!] to say “No,” when you were asked to lend your designer wedding saree, so your best friend could parade around in borrowed clothes – to impress her relatives!
A favourite sister suddenly converts into the most terrible sister when she says “No” to sitting up the whole night, or completing her little brother’s very important project, yet again. How cruel, really! After all, doesn’t she care that he’ll be missing a much-looked-forward-to video game with his friends because of her “selfishness?”
What are the consequences that we are fearful of facing, if we utter a “No?” You won’t be known as a “nice person” any more! We won’t be popular anymore! It will mean we are insulting the other person! Is it any of these or all of these?
There is a way
Saying “No” appropriately will help you rather than harm you, or your popularity. It will free you: from thankless duties, the stress that saying a it’s-best-that-I-agree “Yes” unnecessarily causes, or spending or lending money, getting stuck with unwanted people/doing unwanted chores in unwanted places, or from unhealthy relationships that thrive only because you choose to be a “yes-man/woman.”
“Nahin,” “Non,” “Nein,” “Na,” are just a few commonly known and frequently-used international words for “No.” Use them.
The other option is to shake your head from side-to-side to signify a non-verbal form of “No.” How to do this? For best results, practice in front of the mirror a couple of times, when alone. Look ahead, and slowly swivel your head to left, and turn right. There! You’ve just demonstrated a perfect example of a non-verbal “No!” Simple, isn’t it? Tip: just go easy if you are wearing really large, jingly-jangly earrings, or a snugly-fitting collar because a vigorous, head-shaking “No” could hurt either you or people around you!
Yes, try to say “No,” by all means, a lot more than you are used to when necessary, because it makes you feel so good – when you get to say, “Yes.”