Why Bother Respecting “No”?
No, is a very powerful two letter word. Though it is so easy to say that even a very young child can say it, sometimes it is a difficult word for any one of us to use. When we speak our “no” we tell others a lot about ourselves. First of all, our “no” shows others our priorities and our boundaries. Saying “no” also takes fortitude because not everyone will be pleased with us when we tell them no.
It Is Not Easy to Hear Someone’s “No”
Not everyone likes to hear the word “no” spoken in response to an invitation we give or when we request something from them. It takes almost as much resolve to say “no” as it does to respect someone’s “no”.
This past week, I experienced that twinge of disappointment that comes when we don’t get our way, when we hear “no” instead of the preferred “yes” . Two friends, whose regular response to me is usually “yes” instead answered me with a“no”. Their answers gave me pause.
Both of these friends have servants’ hearts as well as a willingness to make others happy. Their personalities are such that they always go the extra mile for anyone.
It was during a conversation some months ago with my first friend, Don, a self-employed handyman, that he shared how he was working too much and needed to start turning down jobs. “I need more time just for me,” he’d said. I validated his statement, but months went by before I witnessed his commitment to saying no. When he denied my request to help me out with a remodeling project, I realized I was experiencing this new habit of his for the first time. Though his “no” was hard for me to receive, I can certainly respect it.
My other friend, Bill, told me “no” when I asked if we could meet up for coffee and talk about a disagreement we’d had. His unwillingness to meet with me made me wonder how, if ever, we’d find a solution to our difference of opinion. But, he’s told me in more ways than one, that though we are not in agreement on this one thing does not mean our friendship is severed. Now I have to believe him by respecting his “no”.
If I want to be known as someone who respects the fact that other people have the right to decide for themselves, then I also need to accept their “no” with gracious manners.
Why bother respecting someone else’s “no”? As I learn to respect others when they say “no” I am acknowledging that they have the right to choose for themselves. And this is a good thing for them and for me.