February 1st, 2018 by Jan

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

And that is why a zillion books are written on the Tao. Classes are held all over the world on the Tao. Everyone is doing their level best to name and explain the eternal Tao.

This is also true with the saying… No means no.

In a perfect world — no is a complete sentence, the end of the conversation. A No vote stops the bill from being passed, the convention centre from being built or the municipality from going ahead. No stops Site C and women all over the world are safe from harm when they declare No!

And yet… much like the Tao and the many ways people try to explained the unexplainable; saying No, can be seen as a jumping off place for negotiating.

I’ve taken a lot of self defence classes. Heck, I’ve even taught them. We teach how and when to say No in all these classes. We use our voice, we put our hands up for emphasis and we crank up the volume as well.


In a perfect world — whatever we said no to, should be the end of it. Done, finished, kaput.

The problem is we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where the word no, if we aren’t vigilant, becomes something (like the Tao) we think we need to explain it 10,000 different ways.

On Bowen Island we voted No on becoming a municipality two times, before it became a muni. I remember voting No on building the convention centre in Oregon a couple of times as well. (News flash, the convention centre got built).

A lot of causes are put on a ballot time and again and again. They get tweaked and negocieated bit by bit, until they pass, and then and only then will you never see them again. Right or wrong (and I think it is wrong) we say no until we get to a yes.

In push hands, we hear no, no, no, no…. Yet, we are taught that we keep at it until we find yes. We “need” to be able to say yes to the force. Let it in — only then will we be able to manipulate it to our advantage.

People say no to shit that happens all the time.

Saying no doesn’t alwasy have dire consquences if it isn’t heard, or honoured, but it can and it does eat away at communication.

I’ve said no — only to find myself in a negotiation to find something that may work better, be it a time or day or action.

Oh, you say no to Tuesday mornings… does Friday work?
Oh, you say no to this? How about that?
Oh, you don’t eat tomatoes? Have you tried them with green chile?

We need to be clear — No means no. Full stop, No is a complete sentence. No does not mean, try again later, or come at it from a different angle.

Say what you mean, mean what you say – just don’t say it mean. Practice, practice, practice!

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