How and why it’s time to start saying ‘no’

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Vanessa Patrick explains why saying “no” is so difficult, but why learning the language of refusal can have a huge benefit towards living a more fulfilling life. Photo by Shutterstock.

Most of us live busy lives. Between emails, texts, work, family, and friends, it’s easy to get bombarded by obligations and invitations. It’s also easy to have the tendency to say “yes,” even when we can’t or shouldn’t. Refusing a request or simply saying “no” can inspire feelings of guilt and worry about appearing unkind, uncooperative, lazy, or not a team player. Is there a way to turn things down in a socially acceptable way? Might there be an art to refusal?   

Host Jonathan Bastian talks with Vanessa Patrick, professor of marketing and lead faculty for the Bauer Executive Women in Leadership Program at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Patrick has spent years researching “empowered refusal,” the practice of knowing yourself and empowering your voice. She explains why saying “no” is so difficult, but why learning the language of refusal can have a huge benefit towards living a more fulfilling life.


Vanessa Patrick is professor of marketing and lead faculty for the Bauer Executive Women in Leadership Program at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Photo courtesy of the Bauer College of Business, Communications Department at the University of Texas in Houston.

Top athletes are among the latest folks to embrace the power of “no,” using their voices to draw attention to mental health and the pressure of competition. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and tennis Grand Slam Champion Naomi Osaka, both elite athletes in their sports, recently chose to respectively withdraw from competition to protect their mental and physical health. Their decisions resonated, underscoring the humanity often overshadowed by their seemingly bulletproof public personas and what’s actually essential in order to succeed. 

Host Jonathan Bastian talks with award-winning feature writer Simon Usborne about his latest Guardian article, “How to win at life: What sports psychologists can teach us all,” and reflect on the profound effect saying  “no”  has on the world of sports, elite athletes, and the public.


Writer Simon Usborne reflects on the profound effect saying  “no”  has on the world of sports, elite athletes, and the public. Photo by Mrs. Simon Usborne.

Credits

Guests:

  • Vanessa Patrick - Professor, marketing and lead faculty, Bauer College of Business, University of Houston
  • Simon Usborne - Freelance, award-winning feature writer and reporter. - @susborne

Producer:

Andrea Brody