So David Deangelo teaches men that it’s important to learn how to say “no” and how to hear “no” from others. I have a slightly different take on this.
I do agree with David D that it is very important not to say “yes” when you really mean “no.” Saying yes when you mean no is a recipe for resentment. And resentment is the great corrupter of relationships. A great book about this is Don’t Be Nice, Be Real by Kelly Bryson, who is a long-time non-violent communication (NVC) practitioner.
If you stop at just saying “no,” though, IMHO you’ve missed a real opportunity to connect with your own needs and with the person to whom you are saying no.
When we say no, it’s always because we believe that some need of ours would not be met if we said yes. Because the truth is, it’s fun to contribute to someone else’s happiness. So most people like saying yes.
Marshall Rosenberg teaches: Instead of saying “No,” say what need of ours prevents us from saying “Yes.” (http://www.cnvc.org/en/what-nvc/10-steps-peace/10-things-we-can-do-contribute-internal-interpersonal-and-organizational-peace)
If I go out with a guy, and he wants to take things to a physical place that doesn’t feel comfortable to me, my old self would get me out of the situation as quickly as possible and maybe avoid that guy in the future. Nowadays, I come right out as straight up as I can and say what I’m feeling and why I don’t feel comfortable going there. That usually leads to a really interesting conversation, and the best part is I can usually find some way to say “yes” to that guy. It might not take the form he initially requested. But after we’ve both been open with each other and authentic about what we’re wanting and needing, we both usually don’t care as much about the form.
The reason to look for a way to say “yes” — or at least to identify the need behind your “no” — is that it will give you a deeper connection with the other person. Just saying no kind of stops the conversation. Exploring behind the no will give you more trust, more understanding, more intimacy.
“Remember love is content, and not form of any kind.” – A Course in Miracles
I also found these ACIM quotes, which to me support saying “yes” to others (who, btw, will start saying “yes” to us more often, too):
“You may wonder how you, who are still bound to judgment, can be asked to do that which requires no judgment of your own. The answer is very simple. The power of God, and NOT of you, engenders miracles. The miracle itself is but the witness that you have the power of God in you. That is the reason that the miracle gives EQUAL blessing to ALL who share in it, and that is also why everyone shares in it. The power of God is limitless. And, being always maximal, it offers EVERYTHING to EVERY call from ANYONE. There is no order here.”
“A call for help is GIVEN help. The only judgment involved at all is in the Holy Spirit’s one division into two categories; one of love, and the other, the call for love.”
About the Author:
Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening
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