3 good reasons to say “No” more often

By Matt Perryman

Rarely a day goes by that I’m not struck dumb by someone, somewhere, going on about how important it is to reach an agreement.

You’d get the feeling that if you just talk enough, have enough meetings, send enough memos, make enough rules, that things will all workout.


I’ve long believed that this desire for consensus is really a symptom of a true but hidden desire.

Most people wish to avoid conflict at (almost) any cost.

Thus we get the “Nice Guy” syndrome, the needy seeker of validation through the opinions of others.

The term for this is “oversocialization”. The average personality is so overly-socialized that they can’t bear to stand out from the consensus opinion of their peer group.

The thing to do is be “nice”, which means friendly, agreeable, and never willing to state an honest, sincere belief should it offend the wisdom of common sense.

So much seething anger, resentment, dishonesty, and self-deception simmers away beneath the mask of nice.

While I don’t take myself as a negative person (far from it), I do recognize the hard facts of negativity in the human mind. Negative beliefs and emotions are powerful motivators and explanations of behaviors. Most of us aren’t even conscious of them. Carl Jung called this hidden dark-side the “Shadow”.

Masters of persuasion understand this urge to conform, and they’ve learend how to exploit it. There’s nothing difficult about it. You only need to find your spine and say the magic two-letter word…


Training yourself to say “No” — even to seek out the “No” — shakes off the surface-level nice-guy BS and exposes the unprotected core.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro salesman, dealing with some snotty Karen playing Game of Thrones in your office, or writing a letter to the editor. Mastering the art of “No” gives you three distinct superpowers:

-Throwing up a challenge is a quick and reliable way to disqualify the unserious, uncommitted, and the waster of time. Say “No” to a person and you’ll find out how badly they really want it.

-The negative pole of a magnet repels another negative pole. But it attracts a positive charge. Repelling unwanted attention from people works, magnet-like, to attract the opposite.

-When you say “No” to someone, they feel a pressure to double down and explain themselves to you. Challenge a person’s belief or desire and you’ll find them going out of the way to justify it to you.

Yes, it’s manipulative. All human interactions involve manipulation. A one-line sentence spoken or written intends to change the mind of the person receiving it.

Use it wisely.

Matt Perryman

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