the right to say no
the right to say no

Some Things Don’t Need a Response.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

If each encounter shapes us, and has the ability to move us in a more positive or negative direction, would we choose our interactions a bit more carefully? Maybe not. Destructive behavior is a part of human nature. How often do we find ourselves continually engaging in situations that are harmful to our well-being due to lackluster rationale? My advice – take the power back and exercise your right to say no.

It seems simple but society has programmed us to do quite the opposite. Marketing campaigns are built around the idea of communicating to get a yes. The notifications on our phones are designed to inspire responses. iPhones, by default, give you two reminders for a text message sent to you. It’s like your phone is saying – respond… respond now. That isn’t always a bad thing, but how often do we see an email and feel the pressure of an immediate response – even when it isn’t necessary.

1. Responding is Optional

How many times have we heard/said: I’m not talking to person X, unless they hit me up; then I’ll respond. Why? Because… I have to respond. No, no you don’t. If someone doesn’t know how to treat you, then no, responses aren’t required. Instead, we have to value our well-being enough to say no – I have no intentions of inviting you into my space because you want nothing positive out of this interaction. I’m not interested in being used. I’m not interested in being degraded. I’m not interested in being a part of the madness. I’m exercising my right to say no, and your offense will not dictate my decision-making process. Instead, I will decide how to control my portion of this narrative, and when the talks become unproductive, I will be okay with stopping.

If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then we have to be honest with the way in which we should love ourselves. If I don’t want to bring nonsense into my own home, I shouldn’t be so quick to bring it to someone else’s. Furthermore, I should respect the fact that responding to my nonsense, is also optional. If I’m choosing to start a fight, and the other person doesn’t engage, I should respect that and accept my level of pettiness. If I’m gossiping and someone doesn’t want to participate, I should respect that and try to be less messy.

2. Temporary Pause Buttons are Allowed

When you’re hurt and you need space in a relationship/friendship/business partnership to process your next steps, communicate that sentiment, and take your space. Set up your rules of engagement and be prepared to stick to them. For example, express you need 2-3 days to think it over and set up guidelines for emergencies (e.g. text me). Don’t leave people waiting indefinitely – that’s mean spirited. If your update is you need more time – that’s your right. If someone doesn’t want to wait – that’s their right.

If someone tells you, however, how best you should respond to their actions, run. Respect is critical in human interaction. Take time to process how you feel –­­­ just don’t fill that time up with other people. Pressing the pause button and resting our minds from others is about dealing with the situation in front of us, not avoiding it. If you look for peace in ot­­­her people, you may end up making much more hurtful decisions that ever intended. To those on the other end, if you care, be patient; if you don’t, walk away.

3. Protect Your Space

As an example, I think work offers the perfect opportunity to be protective of your emotional well-being while still being kind. I’m not recommending you skip the good mornings and hellos. I’m merely saying, if someone keeps trying to get you in trouble, and they have no intention of trying to genuinely helpful, there’s no need to keep them in your inner circle. You don’t need to be my confidant. That isn’t a positive direction for me, and that’s okay.

Remember, everyone is communicating with a purpose – you just have to decide if that purpose is a healthy idea for you. Too often we open our homes and hearts to people that have no place being there. Some people don’t need a response. We don’t have to accept their invitations. We don’t have to take part in their narrative, because choice is power, and you own that power. Responding is your choice  – and that choice, is optional.

Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts below, and if you’ve enjoyed this devotional, be sure to share it with others.

  1. Your article truly resonated with me. I especially like the phrase about not responding at all is mean spirited. You help me get through a complicated situation where I was avoiding responding to someone. Afer reading your article instead of not responding at all I was able to formulate a pleasant polite respectful and concise response not obligating myself to anything that the person had said to me.
    Thank you for putting your words out there.

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