Sometimes you have to say “no.”

“No” is one of the most powerful words in any language. It can evoke all sorts of emotions including anger, disappointment, resentment, despair, anxiety, and so much more.

We don’t like to be on the receiving end of a “no.” And for many people, saying “no” is hard to do.

Why are we afraid of saying “no”? Perhaps we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Maybe it’s because we want to be liked. Maybe we don’t want to be seen as someone who is selfish, negative and uncooperative. Perhaps it’s because we think it’s important for our career, the relationship or to the deal not to say “no.”

One of the major causes of stress at work, at home, and in the social environment, is saying “yes” when you know you should have said “no.” It may result in you taking on increased workload when you’re already stretched to the limit, agreeing to something you really have concerns about, compromising your principles and values, and many more repercussions of saying “yes” when you should have said “no”.

In his book, The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes,William Ury looks at the three most common ways we say “no.”

People may say “no” but in a way that is so weak and non - committal, that they end up accommodating. “In other words, we turn our no into a yes,” Uri says.

“No” is said in an aggressive or angry manner. As Ury puts it, ‘in such a way that blocks agreement and destroys relationships’.

Nothing is said so as to avoid conflict…neither yes nor no. “We leave people hanging, which doesn’t do a service to either us or them,” he says.

“No” is an essential word in our vocabulary that we must use. It helps protect us.

The challenge for us all is to have the courage and effective communication skills to say “no” in a way that will not damage the relationship.