Yes Is Better, But No Is Not Half Bad

by Kevin Burton

   Success is often measured by yesses. Did you get what you asked for? But I do take no for an answer, often gladly. 

   Of course, what we all want to hear is yes. You’re applying for a job, asking someone out on a date. Hotel or rental car availability, concert tickets, you name it. Yes is the answer that gets your blood moving, fist pumping. Yes is that green light that keeps you humming along life’s highway.

   Yes is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, a summer breeze, the sight, sound and smell of a campfire.

   Yes rocks!

   But what about the virtues of no? Is there not some value there? Consider:

   No is short. It’s unequivocal. It turns the page, moves you one square down in the flow chart. You chase your dreams by some other means after no, because no has closed the door good and tight.

   If no is a fall from the merry-go-round and a boo-boo, it is also a band-aid on the knee and a new lease on life.  Short pause, then back in the game.

   No is a crisp little nugget of certainty in an uncertain world.

   What I don’t want to hear is maybe. That’s a lousy answer. Nobody likes to be on hold right?  Maybe puts you on hold, makes you listen to metaphorical hold music. 

   You’ve heard of the pursuit of happiness, yes?  You can’t really pursue happiness with maybe hanging around your neck. It weighs you down, divides your mind.  You might trip over happiness but you can’t count on it.

   Maybe is rush-hour traffic, bumper to bumper. Maybe is a fork in the road with no signs pointing home.

   Maybe is that door you thought you had closed, but you didn’t hear that satisfying click. There is just the squeaking of the hinges with no payoff. 

   Then you have to go back and close the door. And doesn’t this always happen when you’re carrying something and/or are in a hurry? You have, to go back, and, cloooose the door. So annoying.

   Maybe is calls not returned, e-mails unanswered. Enough messages ignored equals no of course. But that kind of de facto no is much ruder than any kind of actual no you can deliver. It’s lame.

    A contingency plan is a good thing to make if you need it. If this, then that. But better a good solid yes or no to remove all doubt and guessing. 

   I guess the phrase “talk to the hand” is a 90s thing.  You know, talk to the hand ‘cause the ears ain’t listening. Accompanied by an actual hand in someone’s face, that can be rude. But to make oneself clear with an honest-to-God no, not rude.

   “You gotta be cruel to be kind,” Nick Lowe sings.  Great tune and his philosophy hits the mark. That’s cruel to be kind, in the right measure of course.

   Consider the telephone solicitors.  They call at dinner time reasoning that you will be there, skipping past the fact that you are, hello, busy eating dinner.

   The nicest thing you can do is hang up on them. It turns their page. If this call isn’t a sale, why not get it over with as soon as possible. Surely that group agrees with me on the virtues of no.

   Want to make them suffer?  Engage them in conversation then say no. You’re eating into their time and profit potential, just as they temporarily stopped you from eating your lasagna and asparagus tips.

   When you are the one giving, not receiving a yes or no answer, no can actually be considered a yes, writes Dani DiPirro on

   “Every time you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else. No means freeing up your time (and, in some cases, your emotional bandwidth) to engage in other, perhaps more positive, activities,” DiPirro writes.

   There you have it. In a way, no makes the world go round. Let’s hear it for no! 

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