No No The power of saying no

Does No mean No? It depends on many factors and variables. “No” is almost always instinctive, wiser than Yes, and very powerful. Knowing and realizing the power to say No is a potent tool in any free society.

Dog’s got to bark, a mule’s got to bray.
Soldiers must fight and preachers must pray.
And children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute that you say no.
Why did the kids put beans in their ears?
No one can hear with beans in their ears.
After a while the reason appears.
They did it cause we said no.
from Fantasticks

Saying “No” is a child’s most obvious way of asserting autonomy. Adults also say “No” and, as a word in the English language, “No” is extremely powerful. “No” can be very positive in many ways. Understanding how and when to say “No” is one of the keys to health and growth. Yet, “No” must always be calibrated with “Yes”. Learning to say no can earn you respect from yourself as well those around you. Knowing when and how to say no can help avoid lots of boulders in life’s path. Having the power to say “No” and using it inappropriately also has consequences and punishments. In a word, the power of saying “No” is a life changer for better or worse. Learn to know “No”.

In management, any form of management, the manager makes the decisions and has the power of saying Yes or No to any person in his/her workgroup – no matter how large or small. The manager succeeds by initiating obedience. Protests confound performance as the manager see it. If a worker says “No” to a manager, depending on the organization, enduring consequences and punitive measures may be lodged. In some cases, employment termination may occur. Workgroup unionization removes the one-to-one relationship in deciding consequences because each worker has a large union for support. Yet, that “No” leaves a pock mark that can restrain possible promotions and raises.

People can use filters for saying No. There are euphemisms like “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you.” The number of euphemisms rise as your link elevates in the management change. Novices simply can’t say “no”, especially if on probation. A good manager, however, can take a no answer and follow-through toward getting a better explanation. That “No” may be a resource to a possible suggestion to aid the work situation. Sometimes that “No” reflects on the worker’s effectiveness to communicate. Further processing may be beneficial.

Parents often are surprised and frustrated when a toddler says No. At age 2, brain development helps a toddler develop a greater sense of self. Though part of a gradual process, the child begins to say “No” to virtually anything you might ask. The ability to say no is an inherent part of growth development. It’s a phase that leads to the even more frustrating “why” phase. In the development of a normal child, “No” is normal. One hopes that it neutralizes as adulthood emerges. This can be a very critical period as a parent tries to manage her toddler. Using “No” helps assert independence, even in a very dependent situation. No is a healthy indicator to a point that it isn’t problematic. Sometimes these No’s become the roots of psychological problems later in life. Responsible parents must learn how to manage it.

That the use of No seems to be wired into human development, one might surmise that the power of No was integral to group survival. Historically, the word No may have been inscribed into rules of some of the earliest human groups. Disobedience may have meant being cast to the wilderness. In the famed Biblical 10 Commandments, the No commandments outweigh the Yes.

In all early civilizations, the conquered or the “outsiders” were often turned to slaves. Slaves had to bear the burdens and the tasks. They were often beaten and tortured. If a slave said No, the penalty would likely be death and not an easy death to set as an example to others. The Romans dealt harshly with those that said no. The Jewish revolts were crushed with great historic consequences. One of the first major Slave results, purportedly led by Spartacus, was fought and conquered. About 6000 slaves were crucified as a warning to other slaves who were considering saying no to slavery.

Indeed, where No Violence seems to be a current universal ideal, violence persists in streets of cities and countries throughout the world. The word No is often unheeded, virtually ignored.

The British said No to the USA Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a result, Britain went to war against those colonialists. If not for the help from other British enemies, such as France and Spain, we might still have been part of the British Empire and only watched BBC. In this case, No was definitely advantageous to USA development. The 1791 USA Bill of Rights is one of the world’s first documents that emphasized Yes over No. In its tenure of validity, more rights have been added. It is one of the largest documents of Yes you can over No you can’t. Yet even Yes breeds No as an opposing force.

For all its power, “No” is often ignored. There are signs that say No Parking, No Smoking, No Cars, No speeding, and No Texting. These and more are often viewed lightly and remain a source of revenue for many areas. People are kind of funny when it comes to obeying No. It’s a confusing word that can be an affirmation and a refusal in terms.

Those that have insisted on No, often at major risk, have been the discoverers and inventors that launched progress beyond the status quo. Those have been the artists, writers, philosophers, and the performers. In a sense No is risky business. In retrospect, No has demonstrated many new concepts and ideas. Many circled and circumvented No to convert No to Yes. Sometimes thinkers join in teams and unequivocally stat that No is No and will always be No.

The power of no is sometimes used in behavioral psychology as negative reinforcement to create positive behavior conditioning. Sometimes saying no may get someone to do something he normally wouldn’t.

My son was once afraid to swim.
The water made him wince.
Until I said he mustn’t swim:
So he has been swimming ever since!
Fantasticks

Of course, this doesn’t always work!

I am amazed that “No” this two letter word is such a driving force in relationships, business, science, faith, and many thousands of things. “No,” is an honorable response. If you decide that “No,” is the answer that you prefer to give, then it is authentic and honest for you to say, “No.” If you say, “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” you will feel resentful throughout whatever you agreed to do. This costs you energy and discomfort and is not necessary if you just say, “No” when you need to. The power of No needs to be heavily weighed and shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Then there are higher wisdoms that transcend the powers of yes and no. Some say the powers of silence are appropriate. Situational speaking, they might be right. Silence is a form of deeper reasoning and thought. Sometimes the sounds of silence speak louder than words.

The problem is that the human species is so diverse and so involved in personal channels that silence often is an afterthought. That is why the simple little words of No and Yes retain the power to make conflicts and resolve them. Their meanings, however, are indeed sophisticated. Know when to say “No”. Be happy that you live in a society that allows “No” as an appropriate node of expression. Freedom and liberty are often associated with No as a power.

There’s no such saying that, “No is no.” Knowing how and when to say “No”, and being able to back it up, might be as conducive as a Yes. It is all dialog and debate in any democracy. Anywhere else, No leads to many consequences. Those places are where silence may be more precious. Yet silence is no partner to progress. No, inevitably, is. Right or wrong, No is a prime power concept in humanity and, knowing when and how to use it, is great privilege and strength for survival.