A Little Happier: “Yes” Comes Right Away; “No” Never Comes.

For years, I’ve been calling my sister Elizabeth “my sister the sage,” and I often quote her wise words — on my blog, in my books, and in the podcast we host together.

She often says, “Oh, I’m not such a sage” — but really, she is. She says such wise, memorable things. I run around after her, and write them down.

One of the most helpful observations she’s made to me is “‘Yes’ comes right away; ‘no’ never comes.”

I have found this to be so, so true.

She made this remark about getting news about whether a project would move forward at work — and I’ve quoted her line in a work context.

But I also find it applies in my personal life. And when I’m waiting impatiently for an answer, and there’s no answer, no answer, no answer…I remember, “‘Yes’ comes right away; ‘no’ never comes.” Not always, certainly, but often.

Have you noticed this? Agree, disagree?

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Happier listening!

  • Jeanne

    Well, not surprising that Elizabeth would know all about this dynamic, working in Hollywood and all. But it does happen to all of us. Right now I’m working on a possible collaboration with another person, and it’s turning out to be more difficult than either of us initially thought. But people hate to say NO. It’s so much easier to let things die on the vine than to confront them honestly and say, “You know, I just don’t think this is going to work out.” So I will be the one to do that. Tonight actually. I don’t like things up in the air. So if he’s finding the collaboration unwieldy, as I am, I will bring it up and settle it. “This is not what either of us anticipated, so let’s just forget it. It looked like a good idea at first, but now we know better.”

  • Sutika

    And that sums up online dating, possibly all dating, perfectly.

    • DogLvr526

      Yes to this. As someone that has experienced being ‘ghosted’, I’m learning that if someone is interested, “Yes” comes right away and “No” often never comes.

      • Exactly, people want to avoid the discomfort of rejecting someone, so they stop communicating.

  • mom2luke

    If you’re applying for a job, it’s nice when Yes comes right away, but sometimes Yes comes way later after they interview other candidates and maybe even offer it to another who turns THEM down.

    But I agree, often you know in your heart that when the yes doesn’t come right away, that’s a NO.

  • Mimi Gregor

    This is so true and so profound that I wrote it down in my “quote book”. In fact, I have been guilty of doing this, precisely for the reason that Alison below has stated; I hate disappointing people, so I hem and haw and hope that they just stop asking me. I realize that it is not one of my more appealing traits. I so admire people who can just say that they disagree with someone or don’t want to do something with someone to their face. I know that when the situation is reversed, I prefer a definite no to being up in the air, but now I know that not hearing anything means “no”. And I will try to do better at saying “no” myself instead of figuratively hiding under a bed.

  • It’s like when parents say, “I’ll think about it….” Kids always know that that means “NO”. If the answer were yes, they’d say Yes right then and there.

  • This idea also applies as a way to remind yourself to say “No” to projects you don’t really want to do—if you didn’t say “Yes” right away, and find yourself dithering for a long time, the true answer is probably “No.”

    Oddly, in my own work project context (submitting papers to academic journals), it’s the other way around. “No” often comes right away, which I appreciate because it frees that paper up to be resubmitted elsewhere, but submitters have to wait a long time (usually upwards of six months) for a “Yes” to come back from the referees and editor. For those first few weeks, then, no news is good news!

  • Sandi

    With that nugget of wisdom (and a confirmation of our gut), then it sounds like it would be healthy to just say “Next…” when the longed-for “yes” stalls out.