A big yes to ‘no’
Are you an upright person? Give yourself a small test. How many times can you say ‘no’ with conviction? It’s tough. Inability to pronounce this word has spelt trouble for me several times. And the inability of making this dignified denial seems to have gifted me with a recurring cough pattern!
For over a month I was unable to tackle my cough in spite of medication. After a little introspection, I realised diet was the problem. I avoided eating everything that could have caused cough. In came a loud ‘no’ to all sorts of cold and oily stuff, rice and curd. At my level, I succeeded but when it came to saying ‘no’ to people, I fumbled. At office, home or a relative’s place, people could find a soft target in me. They would find all ways to convince me to eat ‘restricted’ stuff. If I refused to have vadapav, they would say “At least eat these two small bhajis, they wouldn’t harm.” If I put my foot down and say no to cold drink, someone would ‘request’ me to have a sip. “Arre it’s not chilled. A sip is okay,” they had a comment ready. No matter how much I decided, at the end of the day, I would end up having a bite or a sip of restricted foods.
It was height the other day. One of the important presentations was round the corner and I was firm on not succumbing to people’s pressure. It turned out another resolve in futility. My friend, who had come down to Pune, invited me to her aunt’s place. “I fast on Thursdays so please tell your aunt I won’t have anything.” It was just a reason to avoid eating. I expected my friend to brief her aunt on this. As soon as I reached her place, I smelt the ‘grand preparation’. When the aunt asked me if I would‘ve samosa chat, I was surprised. My friend is too weak a person to talk things clearly so I politely refused the kind offer. After 10 minutes, the aunt served the dish and ‘ordered’ to finish it off. “It’s not everyday that you visit us. I have prepared it especially for you. Tell me how you like it.”
The chat has curd and tamarind sauce! I finished it off and left the aunt’s house ‘thanking’ them. The next day, my cough was back and I was fuming at myself. “Why couldn’t I say no?” I rebuked myself. I shouted at my friend. “You can’t please people all the time when it takes toll on you. Saying no shouldn’t be a problem when it’s for good…”I was preaching her which I could not practise. I was terribly upset at myself but I knew that there was no point in beating a dead horse.
Sadder, it wasn’t a question of me falling to temptation but allowing people to overshadow my conviction. Did I have the conviction? I asked myself. That was the point I understood how important it is to live up to your conviction!
It might not be taught in communication skill workshops but each of us has to understand the importance of saying no. Or is it so that we think a ‘no’ would be taken otherwise? Probably, ‘no’ is the word many of us aren’t used to listening.
Saying no shouldn’t be a problem when it pertains to something good. It doesn’t mean hurting anyone’s sentiments. And when you say no, you too have certain sentiment. I wonder how people insist even after a clear denial! This means they seldom respect our sentiments. See how much people are forced to eat at weddings and parties and during festivities! For many, the very concept of hospitality appears overfeeding guests!! Again, many regard the person who refuses as outspoken and curt. It’s even more disturbing.
I have observed people keeping mum when they disagree. They will never pronounce a ‘no’. Silence’s not always golden. At times, it shows poor communication.
It’s as clear as daylight that when you are clear in your thoughts and intentions, you cannot please all. After all, how much can one help people who can’t take things in the right spirit?
All said and done, saying no is as important as obliging others, if not more. However, it’s an art, tough to acquire. You needn’t sound harsh as you can say no and still can be decent. And yes, while acquiring the art of saying ‘no’, be prepared to take negations yourselves.