When there is a persistent complaint/unsettledness… when mourning or sadness are tinged with a sense of wrong doing or
injustice…when there is compliance over peaceful and willful consent…when one’s efforts and will are not hand-in-hand with one’s heart.

How many times are you likely to hear “No” in the next month? How about a year? Five years? Now, broaden that out to “No’s” that don’t actually include that word, such as:

  • a ‘Policy’ that forbids or strongly advises against an action
  • a non-verbal expression of “No,” such as ignoring an offer, or redirection of a conversation, or physical look/shrug
  • a pleasing request from another like “Hey, I’d really love it if you clean that area up a bit more” and you don’t want to
  • the voice in your own head telling yourself “No,” wordlessly

Yup, lots! What would it be like if you were able to work with “No” with power, intention, and compassion? Here, you’ll find tools/options/considerations to that end. You’ll be able to use the below menu/directory/reminders to work with situations like:

  • You ask for time to do something and are told no
  • A coworker tells you what you have to do and says you don’t have a choice
  • You a friend to borrow something and they say no
  • You’re told you need to be somewhere that you don’t want to be in that moment (No, stop that and do this)
when no is the beginning

The below, abbreviated menu of NVC options is not necessarily intended to be followed in order, but rather be general reminders.

Emergency 1st Aide Needed?
A “solo” experience (“bitching”/whining AT/WITH others is not the intention) Be your Jackal self – howl at the moon or to an open ear. Pump up the Enemy Image. Take your time here. Reflect / Reframe / Validate your own speech (or get an emotionally intelligent buddy to help you) Then, hear your feelings. Bring to your awareness the needs those feelings are pointing towards. Monitor your Intentional Speech. Should’s out or in, inquisition Why’s, Y/N ?’s / dichotomies of choice

Balance Out
Check in with your orientation (out and in)

  • What do I want the person’s reasons to be for doing what I’m asking them to do?
  • What do I need to know about their needs so they can freely give me what I ask?
  • What gets in the way of my holding their needs dear?
  • Rate the intensity of my feelings – is this a hangnail (1) or a broken marriage proposal (10)?
  • Acknowledging perceptions of HOW the other(s) is/will be – prickly, “un-empathetic,” busy, integrity/trust

Dance Floor
Three domains: Know where you’re standing and where you and the other person(s) are standing/moving:

  • Empathic listening
    • What are they saying yes to in their no? See the “Transyestite”
    • Engage in the “Reading Minds” process for the other
    • Translate strategies, beliefs, and judgments into core needs.
  • Self-expression
    • The same three points above, from the other toward yourself
  • Self-empathy
    • Emergency 1st aide and balancing out above

Remember that requests are separate from understanding. Seek connection first, then understanding. Remember that a true request is one where you’re willing to hear no and play with it (otherwise a demand) Taking care not to reach the request/strategy/solution phase unless it feels right. Acknowledging that the best outcome may be understanding, and not a change beyond that. Consider if requests are best explored in a secondary meeting with a little space of time.


Expanding options – creativity options
Play the Believing and Doubting Game (expand the possibilities of both “right” and “wrong”)
What are the underlying assumptions? Are they complete? If it were possible, what would it look like?
Get out of your head – how would Gandhi, Obama, Bush, Oprah, Blom, 1700 person, 2200 person, . . . approach it? What would this be like at a place that is far more challenging? Less? With a superstar? Mediocre person?
How do other successful people navigate this space/path? What would your role model/heroes/mentors do?
Is there more than one possible path forward that can be simultaneously tested/explored/tried?
Thought experiments – what would those paths be like, both positive and negative?
Can the decision/outcome be broken down into smaller pieces?
Does it make sense to put a toe in the water, then a foot, leg, body, and then fully submerge?

What needs do we share in this meeting? Get those on the table/paper literally.
1 = Speaking Giraffe / 2 = Screaming in Giraffe / 3 = Disguised Jackal Jolt (intractable conflict where ice lock is broken via dramatic words/actions. Disguised, because still a Giraffe underneath.)
“Compelling Positive Vision” – the story of how wonderful it would be . . . what life would be like with success
Get a 3rd party/mediator involved. Try another and another if the first doesn’t work out.

Intentional speech, such as:
Yes, And . . . (Affirm the other person/essence; Pause for confirmation; Add one piece of new information) Also in the sense of yes to intent, and substitution of another option(s) to quickly test other strategies.
“Should” in judgment (fingers pointing out or in), and/or “should” as wishy-washy statements
Yes/No – offering a false and/or limited choice set; not allow a more general wondering to surprise with answers
Why – in the spirit of inquisition instead of inquiry (which can be asked without using the word “why” as well)

“I hope this is our 1st conversation about this, not our last” or “Same time tomorrow, let’s revisit this.”
Nonverbals . . . tone, volume, posture, pace, eyes, arm movement/position

Time of meeting (and between meetings)
Cues / Frame of mind / Rapport
Sitting next to one another or at a 90 degree angle, as opposed to across from one another
Talk in a space where such discussions are unlikely to usually take place
Presence to the spirit of the conversation using the physical Giraffe and Jackal ears/puppets
Medium of meeting: In person / video / phone / writing (generally, in decreasing order of effectiveness)
Location, and, others in the room.
The no is a no in the end. The receiver is supported emotionally and physically in finding the joy in that reality (re-storying, perhaps with some structural changes beyond an open ear).
A 3rd (4th?) party being present to help broaden your perspective and hold space. What is the history in the relationship? What are the structural/legitimate power differences present?


Courage / Fear
Hurt me to hear no again (e.g., lose face, door slammed, salt in wound, lose more than have now, access to people, access to current/future opportunities, ________).
Hurt the other person to say no again (e.g., lose face, anguish, embarrassed, get a yes that isn’t genuine, _________).
Will get what you ask for, at least to some degree, and not sure you want it.
To what degree is this about me or we? And, “my way or the highway?”

Mourning / Sadness
Need Shifting / Need versus Wants / Meeting needs (“Ahem! What about me?”)

Clean Communication / Asking for your 100% / Mambo #5 reflections

  • Attachment / Whole Human Consciousness / Not being attached to a specific outcome, but rather the process.
  • Time: change (in whatever form) may not occur at the pace desired
  • Time: what will the effect be in 10 minutes / 10 hours / 10 days / 10 months?

Soul Nature
Your Storied Life / Rackets: A helpful framework for understanding our perspective as relative. Our reality is actually our narrative ATOP objective reality.
Right and Wrong (Standing for Nothing)
100% Responsibility – event/actions and one’s own mental state
Laugh at your silly human self!
Miracle Question: what would it look if our meeting was filled with humor, openness, kindness, and play?
Gratitude: our detailed section on this highly-productive method for joy.
Freedom From Suffering: A comprehensive directory of concepts and tools to help live a life free of suffering.
Power of Perspective: Everything you observe and think is subject to your personal lens. how can we harness this as a powerful tool for living life?

Three Final Reflections

No is Good

  1. “No” is not “bad.” A “No” is always a “Yes” for something positive and wonderful the person/people are seeking.
    Remember that the no is really a ‘transyestite.’ Saying “No” is powerful, positive, and necessary.
  2. Harken back to Intentional Speech and the use of Yes/No questions. They are appropriately and powerfully used when truly asking for confirmation, such as an empathic guess of a feeling or need. Similarly, an “informative” ‘No’ (e.g., “Did it rain yesterday?”) is not the spirit of this current piece.
  3. At least 50% of consensus considerations (and maybe decisions) begin with a “No.”
    Remember: every role-based decision is open to questioning, and consensus.

And, by the way, the above works in reverse as well – when YOU are the one saying “No” to someone else!

“We rebel not as a last act of desperation but as a first act of creation.” – Sam Smith