When You Just Can't Take No for an Answer

I hope this post makes sense. It has been rattling around in my head for a bit as I have tried to sort out the thoughts and feelings and relevance. As I considered it, I was reminded of an evening on the deck of a Berkeley apartment when I said "no" more than once but was pressured and cajoled away from my position with really unfortunate results.

I wish I could say that was the only time another person ignored my clearly stated position -- but of course, it wasn't. I know well I am not alone in that experience. 

Socially shaped to be agreeable and to do what we are told, many of us -- men and women -- have been victimized. But what has recently struck me is the way it continues to happen in our everyday life because to some, NO is viewed as an invitation to persuade and pressure.

It isn't.

Even if Person A for Agreeable has a good time once Person B for Bully gets Person Agreeable to change her mind or give in or whatever you want to call it, you can never change the fact that Person Agreeable's position was trampled, ignored, assaulted. 

Likely we have all been the Bully (not able to accept a negative response to our amazingly awesome idea or plan) and the Agreeable One (giving in because it is too much work to do otherwise); both roles need some tweaking. 

Agreeable One -- you have the right to say no; it is, in fact, a complete sentence.

Bully -- quit emotionally assaulting and imposing your will on other people: no is a complete sentence.

Instead, how about this:

Person A: No, I don't want to do that.

Person B: But it will be fun and no trouble to you and Could we talk about this?

Person A: No.

Person B: Okay. 

I want to be very clear about this: Outcome just doesn't matter. How two people arrive at an outcome is what installs the foundation for a relationship, and disrepect and imbalance are a wickedly bad foundation. And make no mistake -- agreeable people know well when they have been bulldozed, even if they keep smiling. And when that foundation fails and the relationship collapses -- and it will -- nobody will be smiling.

Soon: Application to Life, with Dogs.

2 comments

by Jim Sontag on Mon, 07/31/2017 - 09:38

I agree and, as a parent, I regret I didn't prepare my children to adequately handle these bullies.

As Alanon says, "No is a complete sentence." Perhaps the old Broken Record from WhenI Say No I Feel Guilty would apply here. Start with something like "I understand that you feel....but...(your position). Obviously you will be hit with another reason or command to do what the aggressor wants, again you paraphrase beginning with "I understand...(perhaps that I am being unreasonable) but...(again your position). And the the trick is to continue this pattern until the aggressor gives up in frustration.

We don't have to justify our position, in fact we will find it much harder to do what we feel we must if let the other get us into an argument.

So 'No" is a complete sentence but it maybe have to wrapped up in the little armor that tools like the Broken Record provide.

So, I agree, a most wise post from a very wise person!

by CA Heidi on Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:35

It's very difficult to have a relationship where your feelings are overridden and you are manipulated by the other party. It really is a foundation that can't hold anything of substance.

I have been on both sides. Both turn out badly.

~H

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