“No” is a complete sentence.

Years ago I heard someone say, “When someone won’t take no for an answer, they are trying to control you.” That is certainly true. Whether it is a salesman, someone wanting to speak at our church (evangelist/missionary), or a telemarketer, I follow a simple principle: A person who won’t take a polite “No” for an answer has forfeited their right to my attention.

Here’s an example of a phone call I recently received. I’ll refer to this person as Pushy Man, or PM for short. Rather than be too obvious by recounting word for word, here’s the gist of how the conversation went:

PM (after obligatory small talk so I don’t think the ONLY reason he’s called is to beg)
“I want you to do something to do something for me.”

Me
“I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that.”

{Insert cricket chirping to cover the awkward silence while I futilely wait for EA to respond with “OK. If we can plan something in the future let me know.”}

Me (after waiting in vain for a response)
“We won’t be able to work anything out right now.”

PM
“Well, here’s a good reason why you should do what I want. It would be to your benefit.”

Me
“I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that at this time.”

PM
“OK. I just thought I’d mention that it’s been a long while since you’ve done anything for me.”

Me
“I know. If any opportunities arise, I’ll keep you in mind.”

PM (at this point sounding rather desperate)
“You really SHOULD do something for me even if it’s not as big as what I first asked for.”

Me (feeling more resolute by the minute)
“I’m sorry, I wouldn’t have you in at this point if you were one of the 12 disciples and just wanted to stop by to use the men’s room.”

OK, so I didn’t actually say the last line, but it’s how I felt at that point.

I don’t mind blunt so much. In fact, I’d rather talk to a straight-forward person who isn’t pushy than a pushy person who thinks their being subtle or discreet.

I honestly felt like borrowing from the British Prime Minister, “I refer the honorable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.”

Do you ever encounter an obnoxiously pushy person? How do you deal with them? Any good answers to share?

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3 thoughts on ““No” is a complete sentence.

  1. When I graduated with my undergrad degree, I worked for about two years as a “online admissions advisor” for a college, which basically meant I was a glorified salesperson in a for-profit school. Because I respected privacy and would not enroll students who I felt did not understand the debt burden they were taking on, I was routinely chastised at work for “over-thinking” my job. Every person in the office was trained to do exactly what you describe, only it was “instead of focusing on the cost, think about how much better your life would be with a degree,” or “I’m sorry you feel disturbed, but you requested information about college to make your life better, so I’m only trying to help” etc…

    Needless to say, I left the job for ethical and “performance” reasons. As one with experience on both ends, I sympathize.

    • I can certainly sympathize with those who are just doing their job. Then there are those who act as if you owe them something and are offended if you don’t acquiesce.

  2. I have gone through this with friends all my life, especially growing up. The problem is that I let them do and it spiraled out of control. Somehow they got it in their minds that I was theirs. So every time I was unable to do something for legitimate reasons they would lay the guilt on, and judgement as well. Eventually I started to make up excuses and lies even so I could get out of stuff because they had a ‘solution’ to every one of my problems. Need to study? Who studies? Not feeling well? Take an advil. Busy with family? Well ‘we’re’ your friends, your a teenager/adult so you should be with us etc etc. My lying made everything worse. Ultimately what happened is I became afraid to hang out with them because it they started to butt into my life decisions as well. Why aren’t you going to school? Get a job! Anxiety problems? Deal with it!

    The thing is these weren’t terrible people despite the things they said or implied. They just did not understand my personal struggles, personality, or even my faith in God. Ultimately what happened is I could not stand it anymore. I let myself get so angry that it built up and when I snapped, I snapped. In a not so kind way I stood up for myself and it led to the destruction of two ten year friendships. (although they contributed as well)

    I guess my point is that I’ve learned that with pushy people you have to be direct. No means no. And it’s important to stick to your guns or else they will know how to manipulate you in the future. God has shown me that when I was friends with those people I was not the woman He wanted me to be. We are not supposed to answer to man but to God alone. I had to learn that the hard way but it was an important lesson.

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