How often have you received a NO for one or more of these questions or requests?

Several times? What do we start feeling when the ‘door’ of ‘No’ is closed on us? Our feelings open up — embarrassment, anger, sadness, irritation..! And that’s quite natural.

And why do we feel what we do? Some of our needs are not met because of the NO. Let us look at all the four examples mentioned above.

  1. “Varun, May I skip that family function?” from wife to husband. For Varun’s wife, it was perhaps her need to rest.
  2. “Madam, May I use the washroom now?” from student to teacher. For the student, the need is to answer nature’s call.
  3. “Could I borrow the pencil from you?” from one student to the other. For this student, it was the need to finish his written work.
  4. “I need a week’s leave in December,” from one employee to the employer. The employee perhaps needed a holiday with the family or had to attend a religious ceremony.

Varun’s wife, the two students and the employee wanted to meet their own needs through a request to the other person. But they heard a NO. When their needs were not met, they might have felt one or more of the following emotions: Embarrassment, anger, sadness, irritation!!

What next, then? How can these emotions be managed? How can the underlying needs be met?

Before answers to these questions are sought, let’s pause and ask the following questions:

  1. What was Varun’s ‘need’ to say a  ‘No’ to his wife skipping the family function?
  2. What was the teacher’s need to have the student in the class rather than send her to the washroom?
  3. What was the student’s need to refuse to lend the pencil?
  4. What was the employer’s need to refuse the employee’s request for leave?

While they said ‘No’ to the requests, they said ‘Yes’ to something else. They said ‘Yes’ to their own needs.

  1. Varun probably wanted his wife to be with him; his need was perhaps for her company.
  2. The teacher probably wanted the student not to miss the class; her need was the student’s presence and hence the resultant learning.
  3. The student probably wanted to be sure the pencil did not get lost; his/her need was the  safety of the pencil
  4. The employer’s need was perhaps project completion before a deadline.

When you are able to think through the ‘Yes’ behind the ‘No’, you can work your way through situations. So what’s next… after identifying the ‘Yes’ behind the ‘No’?  What about our needs? What about our emotions?

For that, you need to wait for the sequel to this blog! Till then, keep journal-ing the “Yeses’ behind the ‘Nos’ you hear.

Mathangi R
Ekya J P Nagar.

Credits: Subha Parthasarathy, Magichive, JP Nagar, for her course on ‘Non-violent Communication’ which opened up this perspective for me.

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