Getting to Yes, And

Vanessa Patrick: The Power of Saying No


Vanessa Patrick

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Kelly steps out of "Yes, And" mode to talk to University of Houston professor Vanessa Patrick about her new book  “The Power of Saying No: The New Science of How to Say No That Puts You in Charge of Your life.”

It’s not always easy being the guy who wrote the ‘Yes, And’ book. I imagine that’s going to be true for you writing the “No” book.

“The fact that I've written this book on saying no, people just assume that I'm the queen of no, and I go around saying no left, right and center. And that is so not what I want out of the book, either. I want people to make choices that are good for them. Which means that you say yes to the things that matter and no to everything else, and that is the core of the book.”

We had Vanessa Bohns on the podcast and you talk about her work in regard to people saying 'yes' when maybe they shouldn’t.

"I cite Vanessa Bohns’ work in my book because she talks about stuff like making completely unreasonable requests: like defacing a library book or you know, can I just use your backyard to play soccer? Weird requests. And yet, people are more likely to say yes to those things. In fact, there's a linguist called Nick Enfield who shows that linguistically across a whole bunch of languages the Yes comes out much more fast than the no. So, our willingness to socialize, to be agreeable, and to say yes to things: we just say that very quickly in any conversation.”

I know some folks think this is also a generational issue – that the current generation is more no-empowered.

“So, there's a lot of research on the Gen Z's who are much more empowered. Relative to us, we see them as more empowered. But I'm pretty sure that every generation thinks that the next generation is a little bit more empowered than them. I think that this difficulty stems from a human condition regardless of generation. I think it's human for us to find it difficult and challenging to say no, because, as I write in the book, no is a socially dis-preferred response. When people ask you something: they invite you somewhere or they want you to do something for them – they are generally expecting that you're going to say yes.”

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