June 2, 2022

4 Guidelines To Help You Say What You Mean

Let what you say be simply “yes” or “No;” anything more than this comes from evil.  Matthew 5:37

Dr. William Glasser told about the time when he was preparing to give his son a bath.  At that time the little boy was five years old.  The Glassers had two tubs–a large one that would have allowed the little boy to kick and splash and a smaller one which had been used when he was little.  The little boy asserted his rugged individualism–otherwise described as “stubborn independence”–and announced that he wanted his bath in the small tub even though he knew the larger tub was easier to fill.

When Dr. Glasser asked him again, he firmly insisted that he wanted his bath in the smaller tub.  Then when his older sister quickly made for the large tub, the little boy began to yell and scream that he really wanted to take his bath in the big tub.

“I had to pick up fifty pounds of tantrum and place him in his own tub where he continued to wail his protests,” says Dr. Glasser, who happened to be a prominent psychiatrist.  “When he realized that his complaints were doing no good, he became quiet, and I went in to talk to him.  I said, ‘Let me give you some advice.  Do you know what advice is?’  He did, so I told him, ‘Never say “no” when you mean “yes”.'”

A colleague invited you to have dinner with them but you had promised your own family that you would all have dinner together.  You would really like to say “no” but you do not know how without hurting some feelings.  I would like to share some guidelines that may help you learn how to say “no” when you mean no and “yes” when you mean yes.

If you would like to say “NO!” then do it promptly without delay.  Avoiding the issue is often taken for a confirmation and then you feel obligated to go ahead and go at the last minute.  Get the jump on situations by blocking out time for your family on the calendar–evenings when you want to stay home or days when you really want to be alone.  Say kindly but firmly, “I’m sorry; I would like to but we already have other plans for that day or evening.”
Do not feel obligated to accept every invitation that comes your way.  Actually, you will advance faster and further in the business world by not accepting every invitation to stay overtime or work late.  No one admires a person who has so little strength of character that he cannot say “no” to anything for fear that he will not be in the good graces of the boss.
Do not feel that you have to offer an explanation for every refusal.  In some cases, you have far more right to say “no” than he does to ask you.  There are a multitude of ways you can show that you are concerned about the company’s welfare other than by always saying “yes.”
Realize a counteroffer can show good faith.  “A man who has friends,” says Proverbs 18:24, “must show himself friendly.”  Ultimately the invitations will stop if you refuse every invitation, but you can say, “Sorry, it is impossible for me to accept this time but I will be available next week.”

Learning to say “no” when you mean no can make life a lot easier.  As Christ said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no'” (Matthew 5:37). And, when you learn those lessons, you will be happier and better adjusted. There are times when you may find it more convenient to say, I would really like to say yes, but I have made other commitments that I cannot change. Ask me again some other time, and I’ll see if I can accommodate you.


Resource reading: Matthew 5:33-37