When is no Better than yes? – Steve Obiakor.


Josh Billings once said:

Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.

In the few years I’ve spent in this world I’ve got a lot of people say yes to me and their yes eventually turned out to be no. I’ve also said yes to many people but eventually could not fulfill my promise.  Why do people say yes when they should actually say no?  The common reason is that we all erroneously believe that saying yes is a sign of respect for someone who is older or who is in charge. We also believe that saying no could harm someone’s feelings and because we do not want to offend someone (a friend or a family member), we say yes.  Whatever reason it is, what we do not remember is that when we eventually fail to fulfill our promise, we cause more pain to the supposed beneficiary of our yes. When we say yes, we make people prepare their minds and adjust their plans to accommodate our promise. When we fail, we destroy both our own reputation and the plans of the person we said yes to.

 Looking at it from our own point of view, we say yes because we don’t want to be seen as a bad person. Trying to be a nice person at all times and to all people has exposed many of us to the dangers of becoming a pawn. That reminds me! Majority of the good we do are done to keep our names and image protected. Suffice it to say that they are for selfish reasons. Take for instance, when something goes wrong in a relationship you hear people say, “After everything I’ve done for him/her…” When we train our children in school and all of that, we do so because we want to be proud of them and we want them to be proud of us.  We say yes to the boss to our own detriment because we want to remain in the good book and at the end of the day, we end up in a bad book as a result of failure to meet up eventually. No could be the best answer in some situations and such situations may include but not limited to:

  1. When the Load is Obviously Overwhelming:

I know someone in a church congregation who is a leader in the choir, charismatic group, men’s group, fund raising group and he is always looking very haggard and tattered. You see him in all these groups giving one report or the other of an assignment that was haphazardly carried out or was not carried out at all. Recently, he was nominated as a leader in another group and he accepted saying “It’s Gods work, I’ll try my best.” Some other guy in the church was invited to make a pledge of a hundred thousand and above; he felt the church could not take a no for an answer. He made the pledge. One year down the line, he could not pay; he changed to another church.  

A very close friend approached me some weeks ago asking me to help him draft a proposal he urgently needed to secure a contract in a bank. It was a yes from me even though I was chokingly busy.  Trusting so much in me, he never bothered calling to remind me. He needed to make a presentation on Tuesday morning. I was seriously busy with work during the weekend that I even forgot. He called me on Monday night to pick it up. That was when I remembered. And guess what? I was out of town and had no means of doing it that night. He couldn’t go for his presentation and as a result, he lost the contract. A no answer would’ve made a difference. Say no when the load is pretty heavy.

A sister of mine needed a help of about 200,000k. I had no money and my answer was no. I did not even want to promise for later days because I wasn’t sure. She saw me as a wicked brother.  Another brother of mine made a promise to her and she went ahead to borrow from a merchant promising to pay back exactly when my brother told her to expect the money. The time has come and gone, my brother could not even raise 50k yet, the interest is rising, her blood pressure is rising and like Shylock of Venice, the merchant is sharpening his knife to cut a pound of flesh.

 When you have a lot in your hands, it’s a pretty time to say no! That’ll save both of you in the long run.

  1. When you are not Excited:

Any proposal that does not excite you should take a no! There is this belief that it’s abnormal to say no to such things as marriage proposal. Says who? Once the excitement is not there, once you have an attached reason to say yes, you’ve created a room for failure in the near future. Let me tell you what happens when you say yes to a marriage proposal because you don’t want to offend the proposer: you’ll end up putting him/her in hell. Your initial plan was to make him/her happy, so, you’ve given up your own happiness. Your mind is prepared but he/she believes you are happy.  By the time he/she discovers that this happiness is fake, you become the wicked person.

  1. When you are not Convinced:

When you are not excited about any proposal at all, whether it is marriage or business, it means you are not convinced and when you are not convinced, a no is your best bet. You’ll know if you are convinced when you put all   aspects of the proposal into consideration and find out how you really feel about it. Having sheds of doubts here and there is an indication that all is not completely well. When you are deeply convinced, saying no would mean sleepless nights and when you say yes, you’re ready to accept whatever comes. Most times some people hang themselves in between a no and a yes. It simply means they’re not convinced, they are, therefore, confused. The effect of this is that you’ll spend your precious time hanging in between your choices. The time would’ve been spent creating room for new opportunities.

  1. When you are being Used:

I’ve talked about being a pawn. Many individuals give in to being used as a pawn in many shady deals. Some are used as sex pawns, others are fraud pawns, drug pawns etc. Most times you discover that those who are caught and punished for drug related offenses are those being used. The real drug lords are most times never caught. When you are being used, you’ll always get the impression that you’re being favored. You are glad to be useful; you are glad that you’re being appreciated. You might not know the extent you’ve gone down as a tool until something happens. A young lady was once arrested withdrawing from an ATM on behalf of her boss. She had suspected fraud when she discovered that the name on the account was different from that of her boss. She however continued her job. Her boss went down and so did she.

Saying yes in place of no does not in anyway make you a nice person. Neither does saying no instead of yes literally make you a bad person. Even the Bible warns against saying yes in place of no and vice versa. Don’t stand in between; maybe is neither here no there. Just say no when yes is not guaranteed.


11 thoughts on “When is no Better than yes? – Steve Obiakor.

  1. Saying yes is the easy way out, alias people love the easy way. No, most times is hard but may be the right answer at that moment. #interesting piece


  2. Nice write up dat got me clued. There are situations dat truly one can’t say no to just to safe face but it can save certain ugly occurrence. More grace to u!


    • Well, I think the situation is a less factor than the strength of your yes. If you say yes by just looking at the situation without considering your own ability to live up to it, you’ve created a false hope and limited the person from exploring other alternatives.


  3. An insightful piece that upholds one of the needfuls at the outset of deals – giving well thought out and exact answers-irrespective of whose ox is gored. Thanks boss for this piece of exactness that would help people redress.


  4. This piece reminds me on a song we used to sing in primary school which goes this;
    Wherever you go
    Wherever you be
    Do not say yes when u mean to say no.
    Just maybe if I had said no at a certain point in my life things would have been much better.
    God bless u Sir.


  5. I have a friend who helped someone obtain a loan from the bank and eventually spent two years salary paying. It was two years of misery and pains as the bank would literary take all his salary at the end of every month. I’m sure he won’t say yes next time.


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