Durgesh Pratap's Blog

How My Phone Helped Me To Master The Art Of — ‘NO’

Written By: Durgesh Pratap
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I used my phone as a training ground to learn the skill of saying “No” effectively.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything,”

Warren Buffett

You already understand the significance of saying ‘no’

However, there are moments when you want to say ‘no,’ yet… the word doesn’t come out.

Instead, you say “yes” and later regret it.

I’ve been there.

I’m not here to preach the importance of saying ‘no’ or provide ten ways to say no without feeling guilty.

There are countless books, videos, and articles on that topic, and you’ve probably encountered some of them.

Instead, I want to share an incident where I transformed a significant headache into my advantage. Through this, I finally learned to say ‘no.’

Here is the key to mastering the art of saying “no” without wasting time or money. Let’s dive in.

Why I was hiding behind my phone’s settings?

I was deeply frustrated with my inability to say ‘no.’

I enabled the “Silence Unknown Callers” setting on my iPhone to cope. (Yes, the iPhone has that feature).

It was challenging for me to decline requests from people who called asking for favors like money or my time.

As a solution, I deleted the majority of my contacts. Now, I only save the number of colleagues, a few friends, and close relatives.

In today’s digital age, people rarely meet face-to-face to ask for favors. Instead, you exist in their phonebook, just a fingertip away.

  • Adjusting my settings ensured I wouldn’t receive calls from anyone outside my contact list.
  • This minimized the effort required to say ‘no’ on calls.
  • While this wasn’t a foolproof solution, at least I wasn’t bothered by tele-callers, sales pitches, or other unknown numbers.

And it became a never-ending headache

However, I couldn’t always keep my phone set to “Silence Unknown Callers.”

I frequently received calls regarding online shopping orders, couriers, and postal deliveries. Delivery personnel would often call before arriving.

Due to this setting, there were days when the delivery person repeatedly called, but I received no notifications.

Similarly, I sometimes forgot to adjust my phone settings when I didn’t have my car and needed to book a cab. As a result, the cab driver would call multiple times, and again, I wouldn’t be notified.

It is only after waiting several minutes, I realized I needed to change the setting to accept calls from unknown numbers.

So, on days when I expected deliveries, I would disable the “Silence Unknown Callers” feature. After receiving my package, I’d enable it again.

The constant toggling of this setting became a permanent headache for me.

Then, one day, I forgot to switch it back.

But this time, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The day I left my setting off — for good

One evening, while heading home from my office, I received a call from an unknown number.

I quickly realized I had forgotten to enable my iPhone’s “Silence Unknown Callers” setting.

I answered the call. It was a tele-caller from my bank. He inquired about my satisfaction with the bank’s services.

Afterward, he introduced a medical insurance scheme offered by the bank.

I patiently listened to the entire pitch and calmly responded, “No, thank you. I’m not interested.”

When he inquired about my reason for declining the scheme, I firmly told him I didn’t feel the need to explain.

He ended the call.

In the past, I had turned down many such calls out of frustration and anger, but never with such composure. That moment was a revelation for me.

I realized I always had the power to say “NO”.

In that simple interaction, I discovered the missing piece of the puzzle — an idea to master the art of saying’ No.’

The missing key to the puzzle — practice

I had read a few books on how to say “No” and felt the urge to decline numerous times.

So, why couldn’t I do it?

The answer was simple: practice.

I hadn’t practiced saying “no” in real-life scenarios.

And who better to practice with than tele-callers?

I disabled my iPhone’s “Silence Unknown Callers” setting and eagerly awaited the next unsolicited call.

Every day brought sales pitches, and I practiced declining each one.

Initially intended for self-improvement, this daily exercise turned into a playful game that I began to relish.

I introduced various ways to say “no” to spice things up. Here are some of the responses I tried out on tele-callers:

  • No, thank you. I’m not interested.
  • I’d rather not disclose my reasons.
  • I’m currently busy. Can we talk later?
  • I’m not sure. Could you call back tomorrow?
  • Let me discuss this with my team, and I’ll get back to you.
  • I need to talk it over with my accountant. I’ll inform you by next week.
  • Sorry, that’s not possible for me.
  • No, I’m using another service, and I’m pretty satisfied.
  • No, I’m not interested in investing right now.

An argument about this practice

Some might argue that saying “no” to tele-callers is easier since they are strangers.

Indeed, you’re correct.

But everyone has to start their practice somewhere, and strangers like tele-callers are the ideal candidates to commence with.

The core idea here is to familiarise oneself with uttering the word “No.” By verbalizing it regularly, the weight of the word lessens, making it easier to use, even with those we know.

When someone approaches you for money or a favor that you’re hesitant to provide, you often become gripped in their narrative.

The choice then boils down to a simple “Yes” or “No.”

The underlying fear is that rejection might hurt your relationship or perception in their eyes. Hence, it is crucial to deliberately practice this art with real individuals.

In moments of hesitation, I reflect on my interactions with tele-callers. If I’m not at ease, I request time to think, eventually declining with grace.

A lesson more important than this post

This revelation provided me with a profound lesson on my journey of self-improvement.

“Practice makes perfect” is an age-old adage, but I had never perceived it from this angle before.

Many turn to books for personal growth. Self Help Gurus preach the need to apply the lessons from these books to truly succeed.

However, nestled between reading and application lies an often overlooked step: practice.

You might find it challenging to implement many of the concepts you’ve read about simply because you still need to prepare.

Practice acts as the bridge.

The sequence should be: Read — Practice — Apply — Analyze.

In my quest to master the art of saying “no,” my initial approach was flawed:

  • I delved into books about saying “No.”
  • I bypassed the essential step of practicing.
  • Consequently, I failed to say it in reality.

I got better at saying “no” after practicing a lot.

This idea isn’t just about learning to say “no”; you must practice regularly to get good at anything.

About The Author

Durgesh Pratap is a versatile entrepreneur engaged in video production, advertising, writing, and digital marketing. Known for his diverse skill set, he writes about maintaining productivity and focus in both business and life, sharing insights from his multi-faceted career. His work inspires others to balance diverse interests and succeed in the dynamic world of entrepreneurship.