The Power of Conversation: Is Your Yes Really A Yes?
“Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind.”
In my coach training program, (Newfield Network) they teach that language is generative, not just descriptive. Language is action. In language, we are literally creating and transforming our reality between ourselves and others with the conversations that we have and don’t have.
A great place to illustrate this point is with two simple, seemingly innocuous words: Yes/No.
These words often flow freely from us without much awareness and thought. And yet, they carry a powerful punch as we often spend so much time dreading and avoiding these words, or are blind to the power we have in creating a different relationship with them.
If you can’t say no, where is your yes?
We can all see the consequences of the difficulty with which we have with saying yes/no: poor coordination of action; over-promising; moods of resentment, resignation, distrust and frustration with folks who say yes, but really mean or show up as a no. I also see the consequences resulting in stress, illness, depleted self-worth, depression, anxiety, family stress and conflict, just to name a few.
Inquiry — Take a moment and reflect, journal and/or share your thoughts with a friend or loved one:
~What are you saying yes to in life? How’s that working for you? ….. Is it producing the results you want? How is it not working for you?
~What are you not saying yes to? If you were saying yes, what opportunities might be available for you?
~Can you say no? How do you say no?
~When do you say no?
~What happens in your body when you say yes and mean no?
~What is the cost in your life with the difficulty you have in saying no?
~How well are you doing with yes/no in making self-promise?
~Do you give others permission to say no to your requests? (i.e. bulldozing, forcing)
~How can you shift your body to support you in your yes/no?
Some myths about Yes/No
~When I say yes I avoid conflict;
~ No means I am rejecting another person;
~ Yes guarantees people will like and accept me;
~ No means I am selfish;
~ Yes is an impingement on my freedom and power;
I find myths like these, or variations of them, are powerfully driving the actions we take and don’t take. No doubt in taking risks with new actions we do have the possibility of having the consequences we fear. And yet, in awareness and with intention, we can take a more powerful, deeper cut into what we want our yes/no to stand for in our lives.
What if, instead of seeing the yes/no conversations as a problem, they were viewed as opportunities for us to connect more deeply with what we care about?
One way to think of it is like compliance vs. commitment. When we are complying with requests, we are merely moving through the actions of the request driven by emotions/mood, culture, or old habits. In commitment, we are anchoring our yes/no conversation to our values, care and concern. You might think of it like commitment management. Yes/No conversations are really like valves which navigate the flow of our finite energy — which help us focus more clearly and become more aligned with how we want to direct the energy and resources in our life.
“You are going to have to risk betraying others — so as to not betray yourself.” ~Julio Olalla
Try on these declarations:
~I can be a good leader, parent, etc. and still say no;
~I can want to serve others and yet be purposeful and mindful to where I say yes;
~I can learn to be okay with sometimes being negatively assessed by others;
~ No is not a rejection but a decline of a request;
~ Yes is an act of commitment;
~ No is an act of freedom;
~I don’t have to say no, I can counter offer;
Yes is not a collapse of freedom; it is an expression of freedom. You can trust yourself and others can trust you when you can make a promise, commit and/or can say no.
As we become more intentional as to what we want to manifest in our lives, not only do these conversations become easier and more accessible, we become empowered as we are creating a new reality for ourselves. We’re also giving others permission to be more fully embodied in their commitments. Showing up for yourself and with others, while taking care of what you care about — now that is power and freedom.