Be A No To “Not Yet”

by Reid on September 18, 2010

They CAN Handle The Truth! Be A No To “Not Yet”

Article of the Month

by Reid Mihalko


Some of us find saying No difficult.

I know. I’m one of those people. Yep, even me, the sex and relationship expert has trouble saying No sometimes. And I’m not alone.

But there’s help for us.

Years ago, when Cuddle Party, the communication workshop and social event I launched in New York, was all the rage in the media, we got an email from a curious cuddler inquiring why “Not yet” wasn’t the recommended reply at a Cuddle Party when you wanted to say No. Yesterday, I was leading a Speed-Flirting workshop and someone asked about the appropriateness of saying “maybe later” as a means of lessening the impact of rejecting someone. Their reasoning was that saying “not yet” and “maybe later” rather than No was the more decent thing to do.

In both cases my advice was the same: Say No. It’s simpler, and people can handle the truth.

The recommended replies at Cuddle Parties and Speed-Flirting events has always been to say No when you’re a no.* We feel so strongly about it that we actually made it a Cuddle Party Rule: “If you’re a Yes to a request, say Yes. If you’re a No, say No.” The next rule in Cuddle Party, Rule #5 is “If you’re a Maybe, say No.”

*The advance, "black belt" communication technique if you're the one being rejected, btw, is to reply, "Thank you for taking care of yourself." I'll explain the reasons why that is a useful technique in another article.

What’s The Big Deal?

What’s the big deal with saying Not Yet or Maybe? A direct “no” for some people can be a pretty harsh jolt, so why wouldn’t we opt for something a little more user-friendly? Or so the reasoning goes, but what’s the real reason you’re not saying No?

Being simple and direct with your communications, in my humble opinion, is the most user-friendly thing you can do these days, what with all the lying most people experience on a daily basis. If you’re not a Yes in the moment a person makes a request, saying “No” becomes the more direct, simple, and most honest response.

I can hear you thinking, “But, Reid, what if I think I’m a Yes for later? Saying Not Yet or Maybe Later seems harmless enough, right?” You’d think so, but not when you take a closer look.

Getting back to the real reason many of us say Not Yet or Maybe Later is because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s okay. It’s human. I still catch myself doing it from time to time, too. And I’ll say more on how insidious saying Maybe Later or Not Yet really is, but first let’s consider the question above about being a “future yes”…

Consider this: What if your feelings change between now and then? How do you guarantee that you’ll be a Yes down the road? Doing so basically puts you into a very subtle sort of bind because your “not yet” hints at a future Yes. This could create feelings of pressure for you and expectation for those around you. And what if your well-meaning cuddler or flirter chooses to wait patiently nearby so as not to miss when your “not yet” switches into their anticipated “yes?” Unless you’ve got your black belt in communicating that you’ve changed your mind, I recommend against it.

Saying No keeps things simple.

Some might argue that a direct No is blunt to the point of rudeness and where’s the user-friendliness in hurting people’s feelings? Well sure, being polite and nice to folks is a great attitude to have in life, but I don’t think being direct is necessarily being rude. If you’re worried about that, just say “no thank you” and be done with it.

My rule is this: when in doubt, be direct. Why? Because being direct empowers people.

People Can Handle The Truth!

Me saying anything other than the truth is a way of me disempowering people.

If I’m a No to whatever your request, me letting you down gently with a “not yet” is actually me thinking you can’t handle me telling you No. By saying “maybe later” when I’m really a No, I’ve gone and decided that you are less-than capable of being an adult. I’m saying, you can’t handle the truth. In reality, I bet you can. And more than that, not only can you handle my direct communication, odds are you’d probably really appreciate it. Especially in today’s world where so many of us are constantly encountering lies, half-truths, and frustrating miscommunications, the truth is refreshing. And, as I’ve said, speaking directly makes life more simple.

"You can't handle the truth!" Or can you?

But just because it makes life “simple” doesn’t mean it makes it easy. And therein lies the irony: Saying No is difficult.

Lots and lots of people attend my communication workshops to practice saying No. I’ve lead over four-hundred hundred Cuddle Parties to date and counting, and even I, the Yoda of Cuddling, armed with Cuddle Party Rules and Speed-Flirting tips and all, still catch myself having difficulty saying No sometimes. Is something wrong with me? No. I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure it’s a condition called Being human. There is not cure, so far as I can tell; however, there are things we can to do to help make saying No become easier.

The practice of Saying No…

I’ve taken up saying No when I’m a No as a daily practice, and you can to. The key is to learn to catch yourself when you’re saying “not yet” or “maybe” or “yes” when you’re actually a No. And here’s the good news: you don’t have to be perfect at it! You just have to notice that you’re doing it first. Once you can catch yourself in the act, start making amends by saying something to the effect of, “I’m sorry. I’m actually a No to that.” And viola, you’ve begun exercising your “No muscle.”

Remember: It’s about progress not perfection! Mastering the No is all about turnaround time!

If you find all this a bit too much to take on today, no worries… Baby steps to the rescue! You can start making progress on the road towards giving “good No” by choosing to be a stop saying “maybe later” and “not yet,” and beginning there. So be a No to Not Yet and see what happens!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kristen September 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Wait, YOU’RE the Reid Cass & John are always talking about?? YOU?? I don’t know how it is they failed to actually describe how hot you are, UNGH!

I recoil to think of all the unnecessary complication I have caused for myself in the past by simply evading the issue rather than having to say No. I think I even did it recently. Oh, to have the perfect balance of moxie and tact, *sigh*


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