The Dreaded “N” Word

I had a big problem with the “N” word a couple years ago during my first year out of college. It was the scariest word to me, those two letters.

N-O. No. That’s right. That N word.

A couple years ago, I really needed work at the time being a fresh grad, so “No” wasn’t really an option for me when potential clients came around, despite working for peanuts or for anything at all. In addition, my natural instinct to people-please always made me a “yes” person even outside of work, despite kicking myself later when the date rolled around and I had to attend those plans over what I really wanted to do: Stay at home. On the couch. With snacks (duh).

Saying “no” was daunting for me, so I saw it as one of my main goals to work on in business and in life.

Today, I don’t feel that same anxiety that I used to when I spit out those two letters, and I have since detached myself from any tinge of guilt when I tell people No.

How did I do that? It certainly took some practice. Many calls from recruiters and potential clients that I just didn’t see as a right fit, or turned down because I knew my worth was more than they had to offer. And while ‘practicing,’ you come to realize some important things:

  1. People will not take your No personally (and if they do, that’s a good indication for how the working relationship will be in the future and also your sign to get the f*ck out now).
  2. People will respect you for your No’s. For instance, a company would prefer their potential hire to be honest about their skill set versus say “yes” to everything, only to later realize that the candidate was not equipped for the job.
  3. You will be happier. Stick true to what you believe, and if that’s a No, make it a Firm No.
  4. A Hesitant No can go a couple ways. On one hand, it could sound like a “well, maybe…” in which the other party might try to reel you in and convince them of their “yes” side, or you might just come off as not confident in your answer which people may interpret as a negative characteristic. Evaluate the situation wisely. If the conversation is related to salary or a similar subject, being hesitant can work in your favor as leverage in a negotiation. That’s the only time I would recommend a Hesitant No.
  5. Lastly, you’re not doing anyone any favors with your False Yes. You will end up resenting your decision and therefore the company or people around you will suffer too.

I just want to make one thing clear before I peace out of this already lengthy blog post. If you say “yes” when you mean “no,” that does not mean that your mind can’t change and benefit from that yes over time. It is always wise to take chances. However, when it’s a Firm No, you know. You have to be truthful with yourself and the other party in those instances, or else you’ll learn the impact of your False Yes the hard way. I did, which is why I am here writing this! With that said, I hope you have found this post helpful and I’d love to hear about your experiences in saying “No” in the comments below!



Cover photo credit to Gratisography. (Love his work, and you will too.)


Nicolette Shasky

About the Author | LinkedIn
Nicolette Shasky is a creative soul with a specialty in visual storytelling and UI/UX Design. She currently works as a Visual + Analytics Designer at Interactions Marketing in San Diego, California.


  1. Michael Galarnyk says:

    great article on saying No to people! Keep it up. I am still learning this one!

  1. […] guilt if I said no to a potential client, but then resentment later for that client because of my false yes. There is no winning this situation if your heart is not in it. Your work will suffer, and your […]

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