The Best Yes vs. Techniques of NO
I have taught students / people the Techniques of saying NO for years. This really is an art form. Things need to be considered when saying NO, especially to an adult, parent, boss, and of course friends. If you don’t know the tricks you can get yourself into lots of trouble or a big mess. When it comes to one’s peers, it can also mean the difference between acceptance and ridicule. You can find past blog messages on this subject at:
I recently finished reading, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst which brings up the point that a Yes statement is as important as an appropriate NO. The author also discussed what she calls a “Small No”, which is a No with an alternative option. Throughout our lives we are confronted with decisions which require a Yes, No, or Maybe response. One of the most important lessons in making any of those decisions is knowing oneself. Without understanding who you are, what your goals or dreams are, what your priorities are, it is very easy to find yourself looking back with disappointment, regrets, and hurt feelings, and with more decisions to make based upon mistakes already made.
As young children, decisions are fairly easy. Do you go to soccer practice or to your best friend’s birthday party? Sometimes you can even have it all and get to do both (especially if your best friend is on your soccer team and has to go to practice too.) As you get older, life tends to throw more wrinkles (decisions) in the way. Now you might have to choose / prioritize between studying for a test, going to lunch with a friend, serving at the community food bank, and / or going to a movie with your boyfriend / girlfriend. Yes, you might be able to fit all those fun / work activities into one day, but how long can you keep up that pace? After a while, you might begin to wonder if helping others really is important, or you might consider studying for the test unimportant. You might begin to think your boyfriend is not any fun anymore or your best friend is a bore. At any rate life is getting complicated. Along with all these important decisions you are making, you still have to live in a family and you might have to fit chores and family meals / activities into the mix.
Let’s move onto adult life. Think about having to make Yes / No / Maybe decisions when confronted with options like driving the carpool, picking up the youngest child at daycare, taking the middle child to the dentist, taking the oldest child to soccer practice, working through homework with all the children, fixing dinner, cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry and anything else life throws into the mix. Take a look at that list again – where do YOU fit into it – when do you get to have any time for yourself or for fun?
What I am discovering is that life takes planning. Yes there are lots of moments when no amount of planning works out right. Those moments are often our most defining ones. The daily items should be part of a personal plan, which includes our goals and priorities and includes consideration for our family, friends, peers, employers, and strangers we meet along the way. What this means is that for every Yes there will probably be another No and vice versa. It is up to us to make those decisions and then with experience learn that they do not have to include long lasting regrets. That is the problem, an unplanned, poorly thought out answer to a simple Yes / No question can leave us with a mountain of future issues. So start with what is most important for your life – your whole life, not just the moment.
One last suggestion is to think about those Maybe responses. All they really are is a delayed Yes / No answer. Our delayed answers may not affect our lives as much as those we are putting on hold. If you truly cannot make up your mind, be courteous and provide an appropriate answer which includes a time you will be able to give a final answer.