in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

• Last updated: January 8, 2023

Sunday Firesides: Give the Gift of No

85% of the users of dating apps say they would like the folks they go out with to tell them directly if they’re not interested.

But two-thirds of these same people have ghosted someone before.

A strange dynamic exists around telling people no — whether in personal or professional contexts. We know that we ourselves appreciate a clear rejection. But we also know, that no matter how politely it’s given, rejection still hurts.

Since we don’t like hurting people’s feelings, we feel uncomfortable with saying no, and therefore avoid it. The fact that a no is appreciated is overshadowed by the fact that it stings.

To keep the appreciated nature of nos salient, and motivate yourself to give them more often, it helps to reframe them from a draught of poison to a generous gift: something that takes effort on your part (in overcoming your feelings of discomfort), but ultimately benefits the other person.

A no puts a stop to someone else’s cycle of rumination and all-consuming wondering. A no allows someone to cross an option off their list. A no frees up someone’s mental bandwidth to think about other things. A no permits others to accurately plan for the future. A no keeps people from being saddled with a guest/co-worker/partner who doesn’t want to be there, and has the annoyed, checked-out attitude to match.

So give the gift of no freely and without guilt.

No, I didn’t feel the spark.

No, I can’t meet up for coffee.

No, I’m not available for a call.

No, I’m not interested in serving on that committee.

No, I won’t have time to see you when I’m in town.

No, I can’t attend your party.

No, I won’t leave your brain hanging with a possibility that isn’t going to happen or wasn’t meant to be.

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