No-Skills and How They Can Help You
How learning to say no can teach you to live better.
It was a warm 1pm when I got hungry. I got up, shut down my laptop, and headed toward the kitchen. I made a quesadilla, sat on a stool by the isle, and started savoring it as I occasionally sipped some water.
I’ve been practicing my multi-tasking, so I picked up Blink by Malcolm Gladwell where I’d left off and started to alternate reading and eating. It works well, sometimes.
A few paragraphs and a few more bites in, I felt something moving to my right. I turned and saw Jack, my roommate, hastily walking towards me.
Jack is a dog. Like most dogs, he sprints over whenever food’s out. He sat by the stool and started whimpering lightly. His begging eyes implored me to feed him that delicious quesadilla. A tiny piece will do.
“Give me a bite…just a lil’ something…c’mon, drop the food you uman,” I felt him say.
We exchanged awkward stares for a good five minutes. Awkward for me because I was conflicted between giving in and not giving — awkward for him because he thought I’d give in but that glorious moment kept slipping away.
After a long chunk of awkward silence, I took courage and looked away.
I said no.
It was hard.
But what’s it matter to me? A small piece of cheese and tortilla won’t do him any bad. And it’s not like somebody will see and punish me.
But deep down I know, saying no is best for him. It’ll keep him healthy and teach him good manners. It’s good for me too. It’ll feed me more and teach him good manners (and more).
What’s your point?
Wow, so dramatic for a quick exchange with a dog.
You might ask, what’s up with the dog? Why are you telling me this?
Here’s what I learned.
Saying no is a skill, and it’s an important one.
Be it a cute dog asking for food, a demanding boss treating you poorly, or a good friend’s request that you know isn’t good — don’t be afraid to say no.
It can be difficult, scary, uncomfortable, undesirable, and all of the above. Sometimes I even struggle to utter the sound — nnnnno.
It’s hard to understand how it could benefit us in the long run because it’s so darn difficult in the moment.
But here’s a few benefits you will likely experience if you practice your “no-skills”:
If you say no when you think it’s necessary, you’ll gradually feel more comfortable being honest. Your honesty will then transfer to other spheres of your life that need it.
Saying no and standing your ground will boost your confidence and give you more control over your life.
No overextending yourself
We’re all humans, and we all get exhausted. Saying no when you can’t take it anymore is not selfish. Sometimes you deserve rest or whatever “leisure” you wish. Saying no allows you to find and keep the balance that’s key to a good life.
No means yes to other things
Refusing to do something will give you more time to do something else. Opportunity cost is replaced by new opportunities.
Give others a chance to say yes
When you say no, someone more willing to do “it” might have a chance to say yes.
These are just a few.
Of course, don’t just say it because you can. But start noticing your automatic “yes” and ponder more often whether “no” is the best answer.
In all honesty, I’m pretty bad at it, especially when it’s time to actually say it. But I’m slowly realizing its importance and working on my “no-skills.”
Be it with your dog, with yourself, with your co-workers, with your boss, with your friends, or with your family, I hope you do the same.
Start saying no!
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