Social skills for autonomous people: One thing though


There are different kinds of no:

There’s a kind of no that’s asserting a boundary, and there’s a kind of no that’s pushing people around.

For instance, this are things that are personal boundaries:

  • Declining a job offer
  • Saying no to a date
  • Not sharing your computer with someone who wants to…

I think that the difference is that the first one,personal boundaries, is my no. The no is mine.

The other is imposing a no on someone else.

If we imagine no as an object, the first one is me picking up my no and putting it between me and something undesirable.

The other is not, in fact, my no. It is just an obstacle I’ve stuck in the way of someone else, and is not cool.

Agreed, but it’s not always completely self-evident which is which.

For instance, say people working for me have to go to conferences as part of their job. And one of my employees wanted to go to a particular conference, and I told them they couldn’t. That might be a boundary (eg: me deciding that particular conference is not likely to help us advance the company’s goals) or it might be me pushing them around (eg: if I decided they couldn’t go solely because they seemed to really want to.)

Also, some situations aren’t really either; sometimes things really do need to be negotiated and worked out. 

Like, say I was married and had small children. And I wanted to go to a particular concert, and my spouse wanted us to all go to a movie together that night. That’s not usually the kind of situation where no is either a personal boundary or pushing someone around – it’s the kind of situation in which people have to work out something mutually agreeable.