In the south, we are taught to be sweet, and with that comes the understanding that a “NO” can never be just a “No”. It has to be followed up with an explanation that is not only good enough for the speaker, but also good enough for the recipient. If the explanation is not good enough we are most certainly going to have to do what we didn’t want to do. 

What we have to understand is that we are adults, we are in charge of our time (when not working, at least) and we don’t have to explain ourselves, because NO is a complete sentence. 

Saying, “No” teaches 3 things: 

1) It teaches others how to appreciate your time (adult or child). When you say no, there is an understanding that you are not at their beckoned call. If they want your time, they need to check with you before hand, because you may not give it to them. 

2) It teaches others how to accept your decisions. Saying, “No” without a follow-up explanation is definitive. There really is nothing else to say when you ask for someone’s time and they say, “No.” As mentioned before, we are taught to give a follow-up explanation, but why, just let it hang in the air. Let the awkward silence linger. DON’T say a word if you really want to make an impact. However, if you want to offer a gentle no, then maybe try this; “No, that doesn’t work for me, what about____?” This moves the conversation off the moment and onto planning a moment that does work. This way you aren’t being rude, yet still, setting a boundary. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t you rather be able to look at your schedule and actually say yes to something that you want to do, not just because you have a free moment that something wasn’t jammed into? If you see that a day is going to be packed already, and making a plan to do something on that day just because someone asked you to, might throw you over the edge, don’t agree to it! Even if your only plan was to veg on the couch, that is scheduled time for you. Be realistic with yourself, you know if you are, most likely, going to be exhausted, say NO! It’s not that you don’t want to, or maybe it is :), it’s just that it doesn’t work for you. The correct answer is, ”No.”

3) Inadvertently, it teaches them how to set boundaries of their own. At first there might be a hint of anger, but next time they want to say, ”No”, they will remember that you said, “No”, and it gives them the courage to say no, too. 

The take away: you teach others how to treat you.

Written by: Dayna Mohan