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The artwork (and the attraction) of studying to say no

This article has been translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur due to this process.

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

The same thing always happened to him: When he said no, he felt a strange sense of guilt. He was overwhelmed in real time, and as he walked away he felt trapped in the complex vortex of his own regret. He could almost guess what the other person was looking at when he turned his back to him: turned off, hurt, confused and paralyzed by the refusal he had just thrown at her.

Sometimes it happened at home, with family and friends. He felt guilty when loved ones asked him a favor that for some reason he couldn't do. But mostly it happened to him at work. The impromptu inquiries multiplied and since his superiors and colleagues knew that he would always say yes, they did not hesitate to visit him. Reports, presentations, last minute meetings and bombings that multiplied throughout the day.

All caused by his inability to say no.

The few times he had made it, he felt so bad that he regretfully returned to the person he was speaking to to tell him that he had thought well and that he could: yes, he would participate, yes, he would help, yes, he would improvise.

He would pass them in his car to make their lives easier. He would change the course of his day, his week, his month, his life. He would get lost, stay up late, work the extra hours it took to say yes.

Because with a confirmation he fulfilled the expectations and felt at peace for a moment.

On the other hand, he did not marginalize him, made him cruel and selfish.

The refusal made him guilty.

That's why he said yes most of the time. And when he said no, he ended up regretting it.


The day the company's CEO called him into his office, he suspected what was going to happen. Times at the company were violent and there was a restructuring every third Tuesday. He was part of a project he loved: he was excited about his work and even though the pay wasn't enough, he knew he was happy.

His colleagues recognized his talent and so did the managers.

He closed the door and listened for five minutes to what his director had to say. He must have been proud: he was considered for a promotion. In those times that couldn't be offered to anyone. There would be cuts in the next few weeks, but he could easily rest.

He would be promoted and given a raise. Your decisions could have an even deeper impact on the organization. In addition, the new position would come with other privileges. But there was a price to be paid: the promotion forced him to put aside some of the things he loved to do. Now he would be responsible for overseeing the work of others: he would be appointed director of an entire area.

I just had to say yes back then.

The whisper of intuition was like a warning. From the depths of his being, something asked him a no. It was as if his being had always understood that this position was not his, that the price to be paid was too high, that he was exchanging a job he loved for a better-known position and a better salary. That yes, with everything and the economic improvement, took him away from what he wanted to do with his life.

He was silent for a moment, torn between his truth and someone else's expectation of him. The idea of ​​looking bad for the company that had given him everything and now offered him even more silenced the warning that came from within.

As if accepting a sentence, he gave a yes for an answer.


Years later he woke up one day and wondered what would have happened if he had said no. It wasn't a regret: he had made a decision and understood that he had to live with it. But there was doubt: what would become of him if, instead of drowning her, he let his inner voice speak?

Maybe nothing would have been different. Maybe he would be exactly where he was now.

Or maybe the no would have brought him to himself, to his truth, to everything he had once sworn to youthful idealism in a distant night.

For now he realized that when the yes was not pronounced from the real center of himself, it deviated, changed direction and gradually oxidized.

The yes that made him look good to others took him away from his truth.

Confused by the harshness of his find, he tried to learn how to say no. Because it was never too late.

After reading, studying, rethinking, and understanding that he couldn't exist by denying everything and everyone, he tried to learn to live with the complex art of saying no.

The first thing he defined was that he needed to know exactly what his mission was in order to deny. What did you want?

It needed a bright, clear beacon in the darkness of its horizon. How did you hope to one day get to the place where your fate awaited you without reaching a goal?

If he knew the place where he wanted to arrive, he could return to the path that would lead him into the center of himself, even if a thousand statements along the way would distract him.

He later understood that a simple no would never be enough. If you didn't want to close doors, if you didn't want to be perceived as selfish and individualistic, the rejection should always be accompanied by something else: a recommendation so that the person who made the request can begin to resolve their problem. He was under no obligation to make too many statements, but that did not prevent him from putting himself in the shoes of those who were looking for him, by offering him something or asking for his help.

He also learned that nothing forced him to say yes in real time. Any answer could wait. The inherited or perhaps learned urge to respond immediately, as if it were an oral exam in high school, had accompanied him like a conviction for decades, reinforced by the speed of reaction we live with today (yes: social networks, emails, WhatsApp messages that our interlocutor knows that we have received and read).

Today I understood that yes can wait as long as no.

He had the power to freeze them for as long as it took. The right to analyze and think before answering was on his side.

He concluded that despite everything he had been told, it was not a positive word. A confirmation of who he was, what he believed in and what he dreamed of.

Well used and understood, it was not an armor that protected his deepest desires and at the same time was the cornerstone to build his fate and find his truth on the way.

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