No. No thank you. Nope. Pass. Aren’t those all such beautiful sentences? And the most exciting part is that they don’t need a justification! One thing I learned from living in Japan is that this happens to be such a taboo expression. Instead of saying no, we were trained to say maybe, I’ll let you know, and everything else that implies that you don’t want to respond just then. I spent years learning to read between the lines and hoping that others would too. But after moving away from Japan and back to reality, I had a rude awakening that people will hold you to your word.
Do you also struggle with saying no when really all you want to do is scream, “Why on earth would I want to do that?” I’m putting my hand high in the air, so don’t worry if you are that person too. It can definitely be hard to be the grinch and put a damper on things. But here are reasons why saying no isn’t that terrible at all.
People aren’t mind-readers
I actually smirked at this one because it was basically the excuse I had for being kuuki yomenai or KY. This is basically a term given to foreigners in Japan that just can’t ‘read the air’ or take a hint. I tip my hat off to the Japanese. They are amazing at reading body language and using their superpowers to read people’s minds. The rest of us don’t have that power, and that is okay.
So what do you do when you are a commoner that has to use actual words to communicate? You have to use your words to communicate! It’s as simple as that. If you want to make sure that your message is being well received, articulating it properly is a must.
You do not owe anyone anything
A lot of the times, we tend to do things begrudgingly so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. That is definitely not a bad thing to do except that you are constantly putting others above yourself. At times it is necessary, but if we are completely honest, that is not always the case. If you are forcing yourself to help your friend out, good on you. We need more people like you in this world. But if you are just going to a party or something of the sort because you feel like you have to, there really is no obligation.
I have to reiterate that saying no to something that doesn’t quite add any value to life is not a bad thing. It is really important for our mental health to make sure that everything we do is intentional. Intentionally good and purposeful, that is.
Sometimes you need to follow your gut
There have been a few times that I had agreed to do a certain thing or go to a certain place and then backed out at the very last minute. Of course, I didn’t feel great about backing. But something in me just kept on insisting for me to stay home. And would you believe that something terrible happened to those that went?
Another incident that has me in shudders is the 2011 magnitude 8 earthquake that happened in Japan. At that time, my dad and sisters were moving back to our home country and I really wanted to stay behind to hang out with my friends over the spring break. They had planned to spend a weekend in Okinawa, just relaxing on the beach amongst other things. Feeling a sense of duty, I said no and proceeded to head home with my family so I could help them unpack before heading back for my next semester. And just a few hours after our plane took off, the earthquake struck!
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had convinced my dad to go without me…
It is not rude to say no
Do you avoid saying no because you feel like doing so is rude? I know I have! If you ask me, not saying no in the first place can be ruder than saying yes when you don’t mean it. Most times, I say yes to an event but then don’t end up showing up at all. Or I say yes and then create excuses when the date nears. And what is worse is that my colleagues are probably the ones that have experienced my inability to commit to events the most. I am a working mom and I shouldn’t need a reason to just relax at home. So why do I still do this?
Before you bash me, I am fully aware that it is horrible to say yes to something then not show up. I am also aware that my ‘no show’ may end up costing money. I’m not perfect and I have been working at it. The reason I’m sharing this much with you is just to show you that it’s very common not to want to do something. In cases like mine, saying no can actually be the more correct thing to do.
“No” is a full sentence
Yep, that’s right, no is a full sentence in itself. If you are not in the mood to do something or it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, just say no. If you want to sound polite, you can add a “thank you” to that. But you don’t need to give reasons for turning events down. You don’t need reasons to avoid situations. And you surely don’t need to make up for turning something down – but if you would like to, go for it!
Most of the time, I say no to parties or night events because I want to stay home and watch series. Hanging out in large crowds adds to my anxiety so I avoid it as much as possible. But communicating this to people who do not understand anxiety can be lost in translation. Think about it, you’re invited to a party and you say, “No, I’d rather watch Bridgerton instead”. Or how about, “No, I don’t feel like it.” What would you think?
So to avoid any miscommunication, you don’t need to justify it – just say no.
As a mom, I can hide behind the excuse of taking care of my toddler. So I will milk it as long as I can!