Saying “No” More

Posted by in Pensive

There is an inherent cultural hurdle to conducting business, selling something or just generally getting things done in India. The aversion to saying “No”.

I’m not too sure what it stems from but I do have a fair idea. The feeling that someone is closing the door on an opportunity forever by explicitly saying no to it (FOMO). That saying no is too rude, too uncomfortable, too harsh or socially unacceptable.

Have a deal which is close to done with someone and the other party decides to back out? Good luck because that is the cue for starting to avoid and ignore you. Because saying no is obviously not the right way. Rather avoiding the other person is.

Maybe it is a matter of reluctance to being in an uncomfortable situation. It is easier for us to avoid rather than confront.

The worst part is, when someone is thinking “No” in their head, they end up saying things like, “I’ll think about it” or “Let’s have a meeting later to talk more about it” or “I’ll talk to my parents / superiors / someone else and get back to you.” And just because of these seemingly neutral or prospectively positive statements, you end up wasting a lot of your time, effort and head space. Are they playing hard ball as a negotiation tactic? Or are they genuinely not interested?

Something I have noticed is that most of the Westerners (generic term for people from developed countries) I have interacted with are quite straight forward in this regard. No beating around the bush. No trying to be diplomatically correct. If they are interested they they will say so, if they are not, they politely but firmly say “No”. I love this! It makes dealing with them so much easier and better!

Tim Ferriss asks this question to all guests on his podcast, “If you were to put up a billboard anywhere, where would it be and what would it say?” Currently my answer is “Be frank and SAY NO!” in the place where it gets the most eyeballs in India.

Do the world a favour and rip the band aid out! Beef up and tell people no. We could all use more of this.

Tell that guy / girl who likes you and is trying to get you to like them back that you are not up for it.
Tell that sales rep trying to sell you insurance that you don’t want it.
Tell that house owner that you don’t want to buy their house. (Happening to me right now and the trigger for writing this.)
Tell your boss that you are not interested in the project or your increment is too less.
Tell that prospective client that you will not be able to integrate their mother’s suggestions in your product so that they buy it.
Tell the client that you do not want to include their suggestion of the title in rainbow coloured Comic Sans.

Don’t leave them hanging. Let them focus their energies and efforts towards better opportunities. They might feel bad for some time but you will save them AND yourself a lot of eventual angst. It is not as uncomfortable as you think. And it is surely better to get it done and over with rather than the long, drawn out and uncomfortable process of avoiding someone, staying dissatisfied or living a lie.

From my experience, it makes me feel more free, joyful, relaxed and more at peace.