Remember when then-President Bill Clinton defended his improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky by saying, “it depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is”? That classic line sounds almost ridiculous as there is only one meaning to the word is. It stands to reason that other simple words such as ‘yes’ and ‘no’ would likewise have only one meaning. However, to some people, ‘no’ does not mean no.
A teenager hears the word ‘no’ after asking to borrow the car. Instead of accepting the responsibility, the teen insists that the world is coming to an end if they cannot meet their friends later that night.
A spouse hears the word ‘no’ after asking to have sex with their partner. Rather than respecting the response, there is constantly trying, begging, manipulation, and finally coercion.
A boss hears the word ‘no’ after asking their employee to stay late one night without any additional pay. As the employee goes to leave, the boss threatens to hire someone more cooperative tomorrow.
There are a number of valid reasons why a person might say ‘no’. Most people with healthy boundaries accept the limitation and try to find other ways to make things work without violating the boundary. But those who refuse to accept ‘no’ for an answer keep insisting on getting their way, regardless of the cost to others. What type of person does this?
Dangerous people. One of the first indicators of being in the presence of a dangerous person such as a sociopath is their inability to accept ‘no’ as a response. A negative response is seen by them as a challenge that needs to be overcome. They are enticed by ‘no’ and enjoy manipulating their opponent into changing their mind. A person plotting harm does not allow a ‘no’ to stand in the way of their plan.
But why people. This type of person is constantly wearing others out with a ‘but why’ remark after a boundary has been set. Even when a valid reason is presented, it is never good enough and is only further picked apart. Their obsessiveness about the specifics of ‘why’ literally wears others into submission. In short terms, this type of person feels a sense of accomplishment for winning the argument. But in time, this behavior exhausts others and eventually drives people away.
Ignoring other people. This type of person ignores each and every ‘no’ as if it was not even said. The belief is that if they don’t acknowledge it then it can’t be true. So they refuse to hear acknowledge the ‘no’ and just keep pushing things forward in the direction they want. This passive-aggressive manner of confrontation is frustrating and sometimes causes others to give in just to make things stop. Again, after a period of time, others begin to ignore them and don’t believe they are being honest.
Bully person. A bully uses intimidation to get what they want so when a person says ‘no’, this is only seen as a test, not a limitation. They dominate by giving others constant, unending, needling pressure to cave into their expectations. The narcissistic attitude of “it’s about me and what I want” is the driving factor which causes others to relent into their unrealistic demands. But a bully is only as strong as the threat they possess, so without one, they are ineffective.
Dramatic person. In the movies, a ‘no’ is frequently just an invitation for trying harder. This is sometimes seen in the romantic comedies or dramas where one person says ‘no’ to a relationship only to be convinced into it later through some dramatic event. This type of person sees the ‘no’ as an opportunity to grandstand and jump over the boundary with finesse. For the person on the receiving end, if they don’t succumb, they are viewed as bitchy.
With so many types of personalities unaccepting of the word ‘no’, there is a real hazard for those who say the word and mean it. The only way to reverse this course is for those who have the courage to say ‘no’ to stand by what they mean and resist those who relentlessly pursue their own interests at the cost of others.