Conversations with BlackBook – That Doesn’t Work for Me


Saying no is not a bad thing

This conversation is deeply personal for me, but the desired outcome is to make one realise that we all have choices, and that if it doesn’t work for you, it just doesn’t work.

What does the word “NO” actually mean, over the last few days I have asked friends and colleagues what does “NO” mean to them, in the main it was felt that the word “NO” was something that was perceived as a negative as opposed to a positive.

So, the word “NO” in the literal sense is often interpreted as a rejection, a refusal, a rebuff, or a thumbs down. On the flip side, it could give approval or maybe affirm a decision or an action.

Interestingly, I also asked the same people the same question about the word “YES”. Without exception, it was felt that the word “YES” was positive, and it made them feel good.

I have been extremely lucky to have had many great personal and business relationships in my life, I have learnt much from these relationships and have grown as a person and continue to do so.

I have been in relationships where I should have made the decision to end the association a lot sooner than I actually did, allowing them to continue to keep the status quo, to keep up appearances, or because it was safe and just comfortable. But was I happy and fulfilled? The answer was consistently a no.

A couple of years ago after realising that a personal long-term relationship was not working for me anymore (I should say at this point it was after many years of trying to make it work), I realised I wanted more, something better for me, to feel cared for, appreciated, to share a real connection, share love and to be loved.

I would say that although I did not acknowledge it for years, it had become apparent that the relationship was not healthy, and it was not working for me. On some level it was working I guess – to my partner it was about keeping up appearances, we had a great life, great friends, a lovely home, I guess I just went with the flow – but at the end of the day I was not happy.

Interestingly, by ending the relationship and moving on, we both have grown as people and had better relationships. In my case it has allowed me to feel authentic and truer to who I am as a person. Don’t get me wrong, I am not standing on a pedestal here, I’m a work in progress, aren’t we all?

There was fear, fear of the unknown, how would I survive on my own – the only way was to be open to the possibility, the challenges and opportunities that presented themselves to me. Was it the right decision – Hell Yes…. without a shadow of doubt.

The same thinking has been applied to all my relationships, both in business and on a personal level, to get the best out of any relationship you must be honest and truthful. Coming from a place of authenticity and truth can only lead to a positive outcome.

I realise that the above is very personal and potentially a little raw – it’s not where I thought I would get to at the start of the article. But I do believe that the same learning can be applied to all relationships, be they business, or those that are maybe a little closer to our hearts.

So back to the header That Doesn’t Work for Me – Saying no is not a bad thing – I really believe that we always have options, a choice, sometimes we just need to say the words “That Just Doesn’t Work for Me”.

Saying a straight no in reply, can at times cause offence, or surprise. However, by using the words “That Doesn’t Work for Me”, the statement is open to interpretation, it allows you the opportunity to have a conversation around what would work for you.

If you have the courage to say “That Doesn’t Work for Me”, whether it be in a business or personal context, you’re very likely to get the following responses back…

  • Why doesn’t that work for you?
  • What would work for you?
  • How could we make that work for you?
  • When would that work for you?

All of these responses are reasonable and open up debate, but it is also important to realise that you don’t have to give reasons, make excuses or validate how you feel to make the other person feel better. Ultimately this is about you being truthful to yourself and taking responsibility, no matter how scary the consequences may feel…

As Shakespeare wisely observed “In time we hate that which we often fear.” If we are honest with ourselves, we already know the answer, both in our business and personal lives. The risk of not acting is that we grow to hate that which is keeping us stuck, and even ultimately ourselves.

Opening the debate allows both parties to decide what works for them, and to move forwards with truth and authenticity – even if that means walking away.

That has to be a Win Win.

Written by the blackbook team