Learning how to say “no”

Some years back, I was out with my older brother and one of his daughters. We came across a vending machine, and his little girl wanted a Pepsi. After he told her that she couldn’t have one, she persisted and started to whine a little. “But daddy, I want one”, she said again.“I said no. I already told you no before.” “But why can’t I have one?”
“Look”, my brother said. “You want yes to mean yes when I say it, right? Well, then no has to mean no”. My little niece says “ok” to that and immediately quit asking. I was blown away at the logic and never forgot it. It was solid thinking for my brother to tell his daughter this. It made me think of all the times I and every other guy on the planet have said yes and was fully held to what it meant. Yet, when I or we say “no”, it’s somehow not regarded as a definite answer and often, invites more discussion and explanation.
Since this simple event, I used this logic to make it easier to say “no” to things.


To me, one of the key differences between men and women is that men do more of what they say they are going to do. One of the biggest ways to gain respect as a man is to keep to your word. A lot of guys don’t do what they say, and sadly, they are less of a man because of it.
I have nothing against women, but they, as a general rule, are much flakier than men. They will bail on what they say much, much more often than men will. Anyone who has ever dated women will agree with no hesitation.

I’m sure there’s a good and positive reason why women don’t do what they say as much. Women are more open to different ideas and believe more things are possible and can be done than men. This could be why they commit to more beliefs and events. Life is tough though. I’m sure women have the best of intentions to do all the stuff they say, but time and resources restrict us all, so they fall short of following through with things.
As men, we accept this about women. It can be quite annoying when she flakes out on a date or very quickly abandons some ideal that was so compelling to her like two days before. But we all have no choice but to get used to it and accept it as a by-product for the more open and optimistic female mind.


I have to admit that I think it’s way harder to be a true man of his word than it was fifty or a hundred years ago. Our lives are so much faster paced and have so many more options now. In the days of way back, you carried no communication devices, had only a couple types of foods, entertainments, and other people to interact with. On the farm or in the factory, you only had a very few things that you could commit to.

In today’s world, a guy can easily commit to fifty different things a day. Just one press of one button can have you saying you’ll be attending a car show event or a grand opening or a fundraiser. But there are still only twenty-four hours a day, so overbooking is an easy thing to do.

The trick then in making your yes(es) truly mean that you’ll be doing what you commited to. And since you can only do so much, you’ll be saying “no” a lot more.  This may not be easy if you are the kind of guy who wants to do everything or not say no to girls or nice people. I was that type of guy but now have no problem saying no. I can easily say “no” now because I and the people in my life know that when I commit to something, then I actually do it.

It’s a simple concept really. When you make sure you’re doing what you say ‘yes’ to, it’s way easier to say ‘no’ to something or a lot of things. Knowing that you must do what you say makes the whole process of considering doing something you are invited to or want to do a lot slower. You will actually spend a minute and think, “can I or do I really want or need to do this thing?”. Many times, you’ll then think, “I can’t make it to that. I would have to come back from this other thing too early or would have to lie to this person or whatever else” and you’ll say no to it, which is the right answer because you probably weren’t going anyway.


It has taken me years to get to where I am with this. And I have had to tell some of the people in my life, like wanting girlfriends, family members, business customers, and close friends the same thing that my brother told his daughter. That if they wanted my “yes” to mean yes, then my “no” has to be accepted as no. This explanation usually gains some quick respect, but it’s the long term that gives this concept the greatest advantage. When my customers saw that I have done what I said, and when my friends and family learn to count on my word reliably, my life becomes supremely better.

It’s a huge advantage having the people in your life trust that you will do what you say. That’s nothing though, compared to YOU knowing you will be doing what you say. There are a few things that will make you feel more like a man than this. And you’ll no longer feel bad or uneasy when you have to tell someone no because you’ll know that your yes means yes.

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