How Do You Say No?

How do you get out of stuff you don’t want to buy or do? Whenever possible, I stick to a straight, “no thank you,” which seems to surprise people. I haven’t figured out why yet. If personal feelings are involved, I’ll add a tactful “sorry, I’m busy” or “sorry, I’m not feeling well.” However, via Boing Boing I found a truly spectacular way of getting out of something, in this case, jury duty—claim you’re everything society abhors:

On a questionnaire that all potential jurors fill out, Ellis wrote that he didn’t like homosexuals and blacks. He then echoed those sentiments in an interview with Nickerson.

“You say on your form that you’re not a fan of homosexuals,” Nickerson said.

“That I’m a racist,” Ellis interrupted.

“I’m frequently found to be a liar, too. I can’t really help it,” Ellis added.

“I’m sorry?” Nickerson said.

“I said I’m frequently found to be a liar,” Ellis replied.

“So, are you lying to me now?” Nickerson asked.

“Well, I don’t know. I might be,” was the response.

Ellis then admitted he really didn’t want to serve on a jury.

“I have the distinct impression that you’re intentionally trying to avoid jury service,” Nickerson said.

“That’s true,” Ellis answered.

Nickerson ordered Ellis taken into custody. He was released later Monday morning. (link)

This episode makes me wonder why we make it so difficult to say no. Granted, certain instances like obeying the law, really don’t leave you open to saying no. But what drives us (businesses, individuals, etc.) to make it painful for people to graciously decline? Do we like seeing people squirm? Do we truly prefer that people agree to something in spite of not wanting to do it? Doesn’t the memory of being backed into a corner last longer than any possible benefit to you from getting someone to say “yes?”

It’s just a thought, but wouldn’t you rather associate with individuals and do business with companies that respected your right to say “no?”




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July 2007
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