No

No. Such a short and simple word yet for some reason I find it very hard to say lately.

“But I say no all the time,” you say. “Why can’t you?”

Well I can. I like to think I’m very good at saying no, maybe even among the best.

Q: “Wanna go…?”

A: “No thanks.”

Q: “Wanna try?”

A: “I’m good.”

Q: “Would you like…?”

A: “I’m perfectly fine but thanks for asking.”

This is how it would go on many an occasion as I relentlessly pursued independence – individuality. Yet I eventually felt shortchanged. I’d been closing doors to opportunities, gifts and friendships because of my affinity to the word ‘no’. My friends and family felt the barrier I was putting up. I was essentially isolating myself. I had to learn to do otherwise. I had to learn to say yes, and like most things I put effort into I learned it really, really well… in this case too well.

Now we’re at the other end of the spectrum. My incessantly saying ‘yes’ has had a detrimental effect recently. It’s taken away my time and has slowly leeches part of my joy. I guess it’s time to take that back by saying what I used to say all the time when asked to do something beyond my means.

No.

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What Lovely Weather We Have Today

Conversation go to number 1:

What lovely weather we have today.

Yes – nobody likes that as an opening line but it’s so passive and pc (politically correct) that one with no originality or boldness has to go for it. After all it’s very difficult to be mad at someone who says such a noncommittal statement, right?

Hello there. My name is Ayanda.

In the mind of the person hearing that I feel there may be a resounding:

So…? What does that have to do with me?

Or an even more heartbreaking:

Ok?

A simple name introduction is unique in that everybody has a name catered just to them (unless you’re a John Smith) and hearing it should trigger some form of thought or emotional reaction. Telling someone your name also puts you out there as you’ve already exposed a huge part of who you are and offered it up for a possible rejection. During the exchange, even though it’s fairly simple, all this should be going on in the back of the pair’s mind. The initiator should know that once you’ve given your name you’ve handed the receiver the keys/control of where this conversation may go. They are absolutely entitled to shut down the conversation at this point and there is very little room for you to manoeuvre thereof unless you have something else to say which is particularly unique and original to your character.

Hello there! (Notice the change? Exclamation mark denoting excitement because I am naturally excited as an individual.)

My name is Ayanda. It means “one who goes telling people his name”. In some dialects it means “one who wants to know your name”.

Clearly that is not what the name means but that sentence is a genuine representation of myself. I would say something just as corny in daily conversation. If you were to spend time with me I would probably try to make you laugh with jokes of a similar structure. It is a trademark of who I am and such a sentence would remain consistent with the character they saw over time if we were to meet again. This is very important because conflict arises when expectation and reality are incompatible. So let’s say I’d read some clever quips to share on a first meeting or I channel a different persona for an interview; the people on the receiving end will feel deceived, cheated and cross when they discover that you aren’t the contents the packaging advertised. Do keep that in mind.

My name is Ayanda. It means “one who goes telling people his name”. In some dialects it means “one who wants to know your name”.

The way you would respond to that would also let me know quite a lot about how any future interactions would go. The person on the receiving end could do one of many things:

  1. State that that can’t possibly be what my name means. (I’d have to explain my humour all the time.)
  2. Do the above with added laughter (One of my favourite brand of people. We would get along for who doesn’t like someone who laughs at their jokes?)
  3. Ignore. (Entitled to do so as well. Probably wouldn’t get along.)
  4. Roll their eyes. (I find that more impressive than ignore. Depending on the vibe from the encounter it’s split between go home or press on.)
  5. Return with a joke of their own or oblige and share their own name. (Probably just ahead of 2 on my list of favourites.)
  6. Explicitly tell you the joke is lame. (Love their honesty. Also feel challenged to prove my humour has merit.)

There are numerous responses but much more options than the statement “what lovely weather we have today” can ever offer.

So the next time you want to talk to someone new, try something different but original to you. I guess that’s the moral of the story.