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In our society today, we have become a culture that is too nice for its own good. We have become so obsessed with not hurting anyone’s feelings that we have lost the long-lost art of saying no. We have become afraid of offending others or being seen as uncaring or selfish, and this fear has led to a lot of our social ills.
Most of us have been taught never to hurt the feelings of others, and as a result, we have a hard time saying no to a tip on a touch screen when we feel it’s not warranted or saying no to taking on an impossible ask at work or at home because we feel it might cost us our job and or our social harmony. It’s like we have been conditioned to always say yes, even when it’s not in our best interest.
Organizations have become too good at “nudging” us into doing things for our own self-interest even if we don’t want to do them. They use various techniques like social proof, scarcity, authority, and reciprocity to get us to say yes. And this has extracted value at the expense of society and not towards it’s actual benefit.
But we need to learn how to say no. In our ever growingly more complex world we need to adopt a default aggressive posture and not fall into the feeling guilty about everything trap. Saying no is not a negative thing but saying yes to everything is. No is a powerful tool that we can use to protect ourselves and those around us. It’s a way of setting boundaries and taking control of our lives.
Knowing how to say no to something that you don’t want to do is one of the long lost skills that we in the west need to relearn and adopt once more. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person either despite others saying it will. It’s an essential skill that we need to develop to protect ourselves from the dark triad types (narcassists, machiavelians and sociopaths) that want to mistake our kindness for weakness.
So the next time you stand in line and are asked to provide a tip for something that you feel doesn’t deserve it, remember to say no. The argument that you’re hurting the person who would otherwise receive the tip is only tempered with the fact that they too should be learning to say no to the people forcing them into asking for tips in the first place due to lower and lower wages combined with high inflation.
Ultimately we need to reclaim the long lost art of saying no as an entire society. We need to learn to set boundaries and take control of our day to day interactions. Saying yes to everything out of fear is cowardly and saying no is not negative, it’s a forgotten tool that we can use to protect ourselves and those around us. So let’s start saying no and take back what was once our right as individuals.