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The Right to Say "No."

If one is the loneliest number, "No" is the loneliest word. However, if you're going to exist on planet Earth, you've got to learn how to use this tiny word - even when the person asking the question is your friend. Here's how to get a better handle on "No."

Nip it in the bud.

Good ol' Barney Fife was onto something when he coined this classic phrase. Giving an immediate "No," when you know the answer is "No" is the best way to go about giving a negative response. You're nipping the question in the bud. Promising that you may be able to catch a movie or have time to play softball after work - when you know you can't - only makes the "No" seem that much worse. So as soon as you know your answer will be "No," let it out!

Reserve it for rare, special occasions.

If you're truly someone's friend, this one should be a no-brainer. You enjoy spending time with your friends and helping them out. Therefore, it only makes sense that your "No" won't be the most common phrase you tell your friends. In the event you do find yourself saying "No" to more invitations than you say "Yes," it may be time to reevaluate your friendship. Is it really one that is going to last, or has it already passed its course? Maybe it should be an "I'll-call-you-when-I'm ready-to-hang-out" relationship.

Don't leave it at one word.

Alone, the word "No" can come off as hurtful in any situation. When telling your friend "No," give an explanation along with it. This allows your friend to know you have a valid reason for not changing his oil, paying his rent, or washing his dog. In essence, it keeps your friend from feeling shunned for no reason. Everyone says they hate excuses, but if your "No" has a good one, it's better to share it than to keep it to yourself.

Set out an open and honest relationship from day one.

The best friendships are the ones that don't crumble under the weight of a "No." Make it clear when you start a friendship that you appreciate honest answers and will do your best to give honest answers as well. With that understanding, you'll be more capable of telling your best of friends you can't go to the club all night. And when you say, "No," you won't even feel guilty.

Allow your friend to return the favor.

"No" is a two-edged sword. If you don't allow your friend to tell you "No" without consequences, you'll possibly cut your relationship's throat. Always allow your friend the ability to back out of book club - even if it's a last-minute cancellation. You would want the same freedom or you wouldn't be reading this article.

Give yourself a break

More than likely, your friend doesn't think "No" is as big a deal as you're making it out to be. She's spontaneous enough to drive cross-country in a moment's notice, and she probably doesn't expect you to be so flexible. Just thought she'd ask if you wanted to come along for the ride. Once you realize your friend was heading out with or without you, you'll feel a lot better about the two-letter word you answered with.

Know Why "No"

Wondering why you should use the teeny, tiny word "No"? Consider these reasons and then practice using "No" with discretion.
  • Your friends will learn what you really like and dislike.
  • You won't spend a day wishing you had said, "No."
  • You'll save money.
  • You won't participate in activities you don't enjoy.
  • Your stress levels will drop.
  • You won't have a tattoo, piercing, or hair style you regret.
  • You'll get to spend your time as you wish.
  • You'll be happier.

Until next time - Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal


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