Houston Forward Times

25 June 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney


just-say-no - Copy

Did you know that ‘No!’ is a complete sentence.

American novelist Anne Lamott has a quote that I just absolutely adore. Lamott says:

"Don’t let anybody make you do something you do not want to do. Don’t allow someone to utter ‘yes’ for you while you’re still undecided (say "I’ll think about it"). And do not allow anyone to ever tell you that "No" is not enough. It is. ‘No,’ is a complete sentence. Saying no is a right we all have. Use it."

If you really step back and take a moment to read Lamott’s quote the way I did, there is absolutely no way you could look at life the same way or interact with people the same.

After reading that quote, it confirmed to me that there are times when we must learn how to say "No" and then move on with our lives without having guilt or regret for doing so.

I don’t know about you, but there was a time when I had a serious habit of saying ‘Yes’ to nearly everyone, because I didn’t want to disappoint them or lose their friendship.

Truth be told, there were people and things I really didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ to, but because I feared retaliation, rejection or revenge, I would say ‘Yes’ anyway.

Be real with yourself. You know that there are many people out here, and even those closest to you, who have a way of trying to make you feel guilty about making a decision that is the complete opposite from the one you know you should make.

You know the ones who treat you like you are 100% obligated to do things for them or with them, and semi-threaten you if you don’t comply with their demands and requests. They make you feel like making the wrong decision would put you in harm’s way.

Personally, I have seen it in many of my relationships; whether it was personal, business, in corporate America, politics or society. The fact of the matter is, there are people who are out here and they will take advantage of the relationships by getting you to say ‘Yes’ every time.

Through manipulation, they’ll even get you to say ‘No’ when it is necessary for their benefit.

I realized a long time ago that it was cowardly to say ‘Yes’ to somebody or something because you fear what they will do to you. While you may consider it strategic and convince yourself that it assists you with some temporary self-preservation, it makes you out to be more of a victim than a victor. It also makes the person doing it a long-term bully that only you can stop.

You know I am a movie and T.V. buff, so do you remember the movie ‘Life’ with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence?

Ray Gibson (Murphy) and Claude Banks (Lawrence) are two guys from New York sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit in 1932. After having gone to prison, there is a memorable scene between Ray, Claude and another inmate named Goldmouth (Michael Taliferro).

In the scene, Goldmouth asks Claude for his cornbread during lunchtime. While the scene was funny, it was the message Ray delivered that was the most impactful. Check the exchange below:

Goldmouth: Hey! You gon’ eat yo’ cornbread?

Claude Banks: You talkin’ to *me*?

Rayford Gibson: Yeah, I think he’s talkin’ to you.

Claude: Uh, no. Not at all; I want you to have it. Uh, Willie, you mind passin’ this down to-

Ray: Hey, no, don’t pass your cornbread to him. That’s your cornbread.

Claude: Ray, I’m a grown man, okay, I’m not gonna eat this cornbread, if he wants the cornbread, he can have the cornbread!

Ray: No...no, if he wants some cornbread, let him go up to the front and get his own portion of cornbread, that’s your cornbread.

Ray: Hey, man he gonna eat his cornbread, all right? [to Goldmouth]

Claude: Ray, look, I don’t need you to take up for me, I’m all right, I’m a grown man, I can handle this.

Ray: If you let him have your cornbread, you’re gonna be ironin’ his drawers and clippin’ his toenails.

Whoa! Many of us don’t even realize we are setting ourselves up by saying ‘Yes’ to any and everything; not even thinking about the future consequences.

Claude was trying to be nice by saying ‘Yes’, but Ray knew the consequences of him saying ‘Yes’. Ray stood up for his friend by saying ‘No’ to giving up his cornbread, and had to fight Goldmouth as a result. The response Ray gave after getting beat up was remarkable. While in serious pain, Ray looked over to Claude and said, "He ain’t gettin’ my cornbread, Claude!"

In other words, Ray had the conviction to say ‘No’ even though he had to fight and knowing he would probably get hurt.

I have very little respect for strictly ‘Yes’ people. Most of them have no backbone or conviction and tend to come across as weak, people pleasers who will never be leaders; only followers. It takes guts to say ‘No’ and mean it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that ‘No’ is a healthy part of my vocabulary. There is normally thought put into my decision to say ‘No’ and I always have a conviction about it. Some people say ‘No’ because they are haters or because they just want to be a difficult dissenter. Many of those folks are spineless cowards as well.

Listen – Never be afraid to make a decision and stick to it. More importantly, be sure to incorporate the word ‘No’ into your everyday vocabulary. Having ‘No’ as a healthy part of your vocabulary will help you become a lot more empowered once you add it.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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