The freedom of saying 'NO'
By Ben Chai, Award Winning Author
We often hear about the power of “YES” and how we should grab an opportunity when it arises. Certainly, the word “Yes” is one of the most powerful enabling words in the human language. In this article, I want to share about the power of the brother of “Yes” – the word “No”.
Now the word “No” has been almost vilified as a negative, fear-driven, guilt-producing, fun-hating word. Certainly, this word was banned around my children from the ages of 0-5. It was a crazy time as people would tell me how crazy I was for banning this word. These people would cite examples of children who tried to cut something with a sharp nice or tried to eat something poisonous or put their hands in the fire or walk across a busy road as examples when I should use the word “No”.
It turns out that you develop a whole new skill set of avoiding the word “no” while educating your children on great habits. The reason I never wanted the word “No” to be used around the children during their formative years is because I wanted them to be Can-Do children. For example, did you know that the word “no” is one of the first words that many babies learn before even saying “mum” or “dad”.
Fast forward to today, where both my children are incredible entrepreneurs and, I’m now embracing and loving the word 'No'
You see at a later stage in your life, the word 'No' is an incredible enabler. When used correctly, the word “no” reduces stress, increases your ability to look after your family, friends, and customers and protects you from people with blood-sucking, guilt building characteristics.
Now, that I am embracing the word 'no', my entrepreneurial value-added wonderful friends think I am crazy. The examples they share are:-
· 'Would you say “no” to a great opportunity?'
· Would you say 'no' to a dinner with a celebrity you absolutely wanted to meet?
· Would you say 'no' to a deal that makes you a million pounds?
I absolutely would say “No” or at best, “what does it cost?” Does this mean I am negative or does it mean, I respect myself and, my time?
The challenge with opportunities is that there are many opportunities for everyone, every day. Every single day I wake up, the world abounds with opportunities for me. People who tell you that 'the early bird gets the worm' are misquoting out the situation and don’t have an abundant mind. Sure, the early bird gets the worm, but so do all the other birds. My response is often 'That sounds like a great opportunity and, I want you to bless other people with it.'
When you have sufficient opportunities, taking any more will defocus you and stress you out. Everyone has a time. Everyone has a pace that they move at. The more opportunities you have, the more stressful and the less peaceful your life is unless you have a team of people to delegate and take advantage of those opportunities. People have lost their health, their relationships, and peace of mind by not remembering to say 'No' to new opportunities.
At the time of writing, I promised to help a friend, who has lost a speaker for his event. A few days ago, I was asked to give a talk to 40 people, who together are worth over a hundred million. Many of these people are in the film industry, property and finance industry. These people, apparently, have a similar mindset to my own and could not only help me with £50 million plus investment for my real estate projects but also benefit my acting career in the world of Hollywood.
My reply was 'no' because I made a promise. A promise is a promise, and the word 'no' enables you to be true to your core values and not be seduced by easy riches. There are people I know, who have sabotaged their friends to get where they are today. Many of these people have many false friends, and families, who don’t really trust them.
Apart from building your core, learning to say 'no' enables you to set boundaries. At a later stage of my children’s development, it was important that they understood that if I said 'no' to something, then it was a line they should not cross. Of course, being children, they would often test that line and have to deal with the repercussions of crossing that line.
You will find that people will respect you more when you set those 'no' boundaries and adhere to them. Now, of course, should situations and circumstances change, you can always reverse those decisions. It is wise, at some stage, in any relationship, to let someone know they are upsetting you, in some way, when they do. Some people don’t understand the word 'no'. For those people who try to guilt me out, ridicule me, or take up too much of my time, I like to gently vanish from their lives.
A while back someone called me the Dr Who of business, for the purposes of this article, I think, I would like a different title- the Dr No of business.
Understanding how, when, and to whom to say 'no' if you want to greatly increase your social magnetism. Over time, you will be surrounded by truly wonderful amazing people.
About Ben Chai
Ben Chai is actor, author, Ted speaker, and multiple business owner. You can see his Ted talk on
and buy his book here