Don’t Be Rude: Say No

I am just going to put it out there: I hate when people don’t say “No.” I understand that this may seem odd at first glance. Shouldn’t I prefer that people say “Yes”? Not exactly. What I prefer is for people to speak honestly and with integrity. Sometimes that means saying “no,” and that is a good thing.

In today’s world, it does not seem to matter who you are; politicians, business owners, customer service reps, teachers, parents, potential customers, hiring managers…nobody wants to say no. In fact, most people will go miles out of their way to skirt around having to say no.  Society tells us that we are just being polite, but I contend that in fact, it is extremely rude not to say no. Politicians lose their moral and ethical values trying to appease everyone. A business owner expects his employees to work extra hours because he can’t say no to a client’s unreasonable demand. A customer service rep wiggles around tough questions, frustrating the customer even more, but politely never saying no. A potential client continues to waste a sales person’s time because they don’t want to insult the salesperson with a “no.” A job seeker eagerly awaits the promised, but never received, phone call about the job.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:37, to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” We complicate our world and throw away our sincerity by not speaking clearly and with certainty. But let us not just glaze over the second part. Jesus teaches that it is evil, misleading, and untruthful to skirt around a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Our society is hurting today because no one knows who or what to trust. No one speaks clearly anymore. The result is a culture centered on self-preservation, fear, and uncertainty. With no one to trust, all we can do is protect ourselves, suspect everyone, and pray or hope for a better tomorrow.

A better tomorrow can’t begin until you and I are willing to be sincere and honest enough to say no. I am not talking about taking a stand by saying “no” to the direction our society is going or to some large political or cultural issue. I am literally talking about just saying “no” in everyday life. When a customer asks a question or makes a request that you can’t fulfill, simply say no. When the salesperson calls for the 15th time, don’t say maybe later, say no; let him move on to greener pastures. Call the poor applicant who was expecting your call a week ago and tell him he did not get the job, after all, you promised you would. Is it better to break a promise or to say no? Is it more ethical to lead people on, or to say no? Is it better customer service to confuse customers through layers of policies, exceptions, and rules, or is it more effective to say no?

People are longing for strong leaders, sincere teachers, moral businesses, and honest answers to simple questions. People are longing for straight talk, and you can’t get any straighter than saying “no.” So next time you feel your stomach start to turn at the thought of having to say “no,” remember that no is not the problem; the problem is all the walls we put between our answer and the word no. People are normally not offended by a straight, honest answer. They are, however, always offended by being ignored, misled, lied to, or otherwise abused by all our polite tactics we use to avoid simply saying no.