The Power of “No”

This is a calm “No.” It is not given in an angry, hurt or rejecting voice. It is, instead, a simple “No” that suggests there is more to the answer, but that elaboration will be “not now.”

Reasons for giving a calm, plain answer of “No” include:

  • I don’t know what to do so, rather than doing what is suggested, I want to think and consider ideas. Give me some time.
  • None of the alternatives are acceptable. This may happen over a very complex set of differing reasons. Similar to above, this is saying that I want time to try and come up with more alternatives and, hopefully, find an overall better answer.
  • I’m worn out and don’t want to discuss anything. I need a break.
  • My ego is bruised because I ought to be able to do this, don’t fully understand why I failed, and I confess that for selfish, male-ego reasons, I’m just not willing to give up. Just not now.

While I’m usually a proponent of “Yes” answers, I’m also a human being. I have limits and, when I’m tired, hungry, or emotionally worn out, I may simply recognize that not only don’t I want to make a decision, nor do I want anyone else to do so for me.

Instead, sometimes I just need time to rest and recuperate.

A “No” now means that, hours or days later, I think I’ll be ready again to take it up, maybe come up with more ideas, or perhaps I’ll simply be in better condition to carry out what has already been proposed, or that maybe I’ll then be able to enter a discussion of what’s the best thing to do.

But not now.


A simple, calm statement, repeated if necessary but with no qualifiers. No elaboration that invites debate. No reason given that needs to be defended. No statement of if or when I’ll be ready to take it on again.

Just, “No,” repeated just as simply and calmly as many times as needed.


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