Yesterday, on my blog, I spoke about communicating without making excuses or justifications for your decisions. I challenged you to spend some time trying to respond to requests in an authentic and honest manner. Today, I challenge you to gain a new respect for the word, "no." Say it. Mean it. And, honor it. Use it with wild abandon and see how it feels. Pay attention to how you feel when you say it and how you feel when you hear it directed at you. If it doesn't feel good to say it, dig a little deeper and ask yourself, "why?' If it doesn't feel good to hear it, notice what you do in response.
For constructive communication, negotiation and problem solving it has to be safe for people to say "NO!" You can't have honest interactions without it. If it isn't safe to say "no" then it won't be safe to ask for anything. And, if it isn't safe to ask, we have to go about manipulating our way through to get what we want. As an example, I will often notice a parent's discomfort with responding "no" to a child's request. Instead of politely saying, "no, " they will get all flustered and begin redirect tactics. They'll start with trying to talk them out of wanting what they asked for, explaining all the reasons it isn't worth wanting, why they won't like it, or why it isn't good for them. Then, they'll move onto why they shouldn't have asked for it in the first place. If reason doesn't suffice to dissuade the request, they'll move onto guilt and shame. All of this, and its longterm negative consequences which lead to a distrust of one's desires, an unwillingness to speak up and a unreliable sense of self, can be avoided by a simple two letter word -"no."