The ability to say “No” is a true superpower.

Rod Pickett
2 min readMay 9, 2022

“No” is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.

Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear


Those two letters form a complete sentence. In fact, they are standing alone right there as an entire paragraph.

It is best not to give reasons for saying “No.”

If you tell a telemarketer “No,” they will try to get you to explain why you declined the offer.

You know how the script goes. As soon as you give a reason, they begin to make a case that your reason is not valid.

Then they make the offer again.

If you are a “nice” person (Full disclosure: I’m a recovering “nice” person myself.), if you are a “nice” person, you feel bad saying “No,” so you try to soften the rejection.

Before you know what happened, the “No” has been transformed into “Maybe.”

From there it is just a matter of a few more deflected reasons until “Maybe” becomes “OK.”

If this is someone more a part of your life than a one-off caller, then you have trained them that your “No” doesn’t really mean “No.” It’s always open for negotiation.

It is possible to say, “No,” politely, respectfully, and firmly.

It doesn’t mean you have no heart.

The ability to say “No” is a true superpower.

Whenever you say “Yes” to one thing you are saying “No” to many other things.

One of the challenges in saying “No” is learning to say it early.

When presented with an opportunity or a request, it is natural to think of all the benefits of the opportunity or the positive feelings of fulfilling the request.

It’s not until later that the full cost becomes obvious.

A good starting point is to make “No” your default response, unless you can say an enthusiastic, “Heck, yes!”

Even then, you’ll need to protect yourself from an overly optimistic assessment of the commitment you are making.

Things always take longer and require more resources than we initially estimate.

And the opportunity of a lifetime is usually based on the lifespan of a fruit fly.

With some practice, you can learn to listen to your intuition.

There is nothing spooky about intuition. It is simply your brain processing many different assessments of a situation just below the conscious level.

If your intuition is uneasy, pay attention to that.

You can still say “Yes” but only after carefully counting the cost.

You have only so many Yesses. Don’t waste them on the wrong things.

Above all, don’t let others say “Yes” for you.

— Rod Pickett

Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook.

Rod Pickett

Rod Pickett is a writer, pastor, teacher, photographer, real estate broker, certified personal trainer, consultant, woodworker, and life-long learner.