Words That Mean No

  • No.
  • Unfortunately not.
  • Access denied.
  • We regret to inform you that it is not the case.
  • I am disinclined to comply.
  • Password incorrect.
  • In alternative reality, perhaps. But not in this one.
  • That option is not available.
  • We don’t do that anymore.
  • You’re joking, right?
  • Your offer has been declined.
  • The algorithm suggests an alternative solution.
  • You need to re-examine your hypothesis.
  • Please try again.
  • Password incorrect.
  • Why would I ever agree to that?
  • Or not.
  • Your data is incorrectly formatted.
  • Re-examine your assumptions.
  • I’m busy.

It is easy to assume that no is a bad thing. It can represent failure, lost hopes, wasted energy. Or at least, the feeling of wasted energy. Or it can be a redirection, an invitation to re-examine things, to reflect upon the way that you do things, the assumptions that you make.

It is easy to assume that the no is about you. This morning, The Dude was tired as we drove along the road. I thought he was still upset because I had been unnecessarily grumpy the night before (me? Grumpy? Perish the thought!), but he was just missing a cup of coffee. Fix the coffee, fix The Dude. (I’m the same sometimes, just with chocolate. Which would be fine, except Little Person has just found half my stash.) So sometimes the no is not about you. Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe you are asking the wrong person entirely. Maybe what they say is wrong, is exactly what is right. Somewhere else.

Feel free to add some ways to say no to my list. The funnier the better.


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