I became really good at saying no the moment I accepted that anyone else could say no to me. And they didn’t even owe me an explanation.

Do you have a hard time saying no, or setting boundaries? Here are some other things to consider.

First, my friendships improve when someone tells me no, because then I know they mean it when they say yes. Also, when I have said no to something I really wasn’t that excited about, my friends and I have often found a much better idea than any of us would have though of otherwise.

And the replacements for no are worse than no. “Kinda” and “maybe” never lead to a real yes, but no often leads to yes. When someone says no it puts them in a position of power and they feel in control. That feeling often leads to creativity, vulnerability or ambition. And one of those three qualities is always necessary for there to be a real yes.

Of course if you want to say no this time but want the person to ask again in the future, just say so. But you are only feeding unrealistic expectations by trying to let someone down easy if the answer is just no. In that sense, a clear no is a kindness. And you can be clear and kind at the same time.

Finally, remember, people are empathetic. Often the other person can feel that the answer is no even if you don’t say it. Not saying no just causes everyone to walk on eggshells. Sometimes saying no merely gives everyone permission to be clear about their own desires. Which is another reason why no often leads to yes, but maybe and kinda never do.