31 day challenge: Don’t say ‘No’


I am infamous for being direct and saying exactly what I am thinking sans filters. My face is a direct reflection of my thoughts and I learnt very early in my career that this is not necessarily an asset in the corporate world. To add to this malady, I also get annoyed when I do not get my way with life. Before, you race into picturing me as a foot stomping crazy woman; I must admit that the above statements are mildly exaggerated but only ever so slightly.

Long story short, I am work in progress in the department of emotional intelligence and learnt one of my most interesting lessons early this year. In a call my mentor, I expressed my desire to not come across as a little girl stamping her foot wanting things to run her way. Somewhere amidst the conversation I said ‘NO’ to which he said, “Ankita, when you say the word ‘NO’, it makes me flinch. It does not hurt nor annoy as much since I have known you for a few years now and understand you do not mean to hurt, however, it isn’t a nice word to hear.” He went on to tell me that the Irish have no word that literally translates into ‘No’.

Being someone who always turns to Google to check for facts, I instinctively typed in a search and voila! He was right. It was highly unlikely he would not be since he is Irish but I digress.

Over the next few weeks, I found my ears perking themselves every time I heard the word and realized how often we throw it around in situations that do not need it. I found myself beginning to flinch a little every time I heard the word and eventually challenged myself to delete the word from my dictionary. I expected this to be an extremely difficult challenge but surprisingly it wasn’t.

I still communicated effectively. People reacted more positively to bad news. The only downside is that my sentences were a few words longer that they otherwise would be. I think the Irish were on to something when they decided not to coin a word for NO. A caveat here – I have only been doing this for a few weeks now but it has had some dramatic results.

Here is my February challenge: Delete the word ‘No’ from your dictionary for the next 31 days. Do not use it in both verbal and written communication. This does not mean you cannot refuse. It only needs you to find alternate words. Listen carefully when you hear the word. Maybe even make a mental note on how the conversation could be phrased differently.

I would love to hear how you get on with this month’s challenge. I love it. It probably the most fun I have had with a ‘corporate’ challenge until date. What do you think?


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