N - O Spells No

Ed Thomas Coaching

posted on Monday, May 6, 2019

N- O Spells No

How can one simple word have such an impact on our lives? A study out of UCLA suggests the average one year old hears the word, “No!” more than 400 times per day. Is that a bad thing? As parents, the word no seems essential for setting boundaries for young people. When we say no does it really mean no? What if we say no too much and our children are unable to learn for themselves? What is the delicate balance of using this little word?

“Just say no” seemed logical in the War on Drugs campaign. Obviously, it did not completely alleviate the problem. It was a simple way to avoid getting mixed up in negative situations. Yet, even when we know that they can harm us, we may still say yes to those opportunities. Saying no requires that we have goals, a strong sense of self, and that we prepare for situations that are inevitable to come up in our lives.  

As we are socialized with others, it is easy for some of us to become “people pleasers.” This means that we can’t say no for fear of losing friendships. “People pleasing” can also lead to spreading ourselves too thin. Many people find it difficult to say no when asked to do positive things. These requests could be in the form of community service, church groups or volunteering. All of these are great opportunities to help where we are needed, but we shouldn’t let our lives get out of balance.

Saying yes to everyone and everything leads us to feel like there's always something we should be working on. Many people may struggle to relax or spend leisure time with their loved ones because they feel too guilty. There is always the fear that if we do say no, it may lead to a missed opportunity for future success– which only adds to the stress. Good grief– this little word has power!

It may help to know that saying no does not make you a bad person. It’s ok to leave that work until tomorrow. It’s ok to leave that to-do on the list. We must learn that we can say no guilt-free. If we prioritize our values and what is most important to us, it becomes easier to say no to things that may interfere with what we value most.          

Which of the following popular statements best describes you?

  1. No means no.

  2. Never take no for an answer.      

Certainly, each statement may be appropriate depending on the circumstance. This is just another illustration of a powerful and sometimes confusing little word that can be so impactful to us. As individuals, we are given the great power to choose how we make this word work for us in our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:13 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Prioritize our values so we may say no when it’s most appropriate for us.  Be empathetic of others when they choose to say no.  Use statements like –

  • No thank you.
  • Sorry that won’t work for me.
  • I appreciate your offer, but not this time.
  • Unfortunately, that’s not something I can do at this time.

Al Kerns & the Ed Thomas Family Foundation

This post is written by Al Kerns, a long-time friend of Ed Thomas and a team member with the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. Al coached with Ed for 30+ years at Aplington-Parkersburg.